Cold case: Joseph Shackleton and May Rosser

Learn about the murder of Joseph Shackleton and May Rosser and assist Victoria Police with any information you may have to help solve the case.

Homicide Squad detectives are continuing to appeal for information in relation to the 1990 murder of May Rosser and Joseph Shackleton in Brunswick.

May, 74, and Joseph, 72, were both widowed and had been in a relationship for eight years prior to their deaths.

On 25 May, 1990 it’s believed Joseph spent the day at his Thomas Street, Brunswick home before leaving to meet friends at a Sydney Road hotel.

He left the hotel about 6pm and dropped a friend home before heading to May’s Hope Street, Brunswick property for the evening.

May spoke to a relative about 9pm that night and they made plans to meet the following morning.

This is the last confirmed contact anyone has with the couple.

On 26 May, 1990 a relative attended May’s Hope Street house and neither May nor Joseph were at home.

There was a large amount of blood in the house and a number of items were missing, including the couple’s white Holden Commodore station wagon.

On the night of 28 May, 1990 police were called to the Hawkesburn railway station in relation to a report of a suspicious vehicle that had been parked near the station entrance for several days.

After searching the car, police located the bodies of May and Joseph in the rear of the vehicle, covered by carpet and rubbish believed to have come from a building or construction site.

Detectives believe May and Joseph were likely murdered in their Brunswick home, however a motive for their deaths has never been established.

Investigators also believe whoever left the vehicle in Hawksburn Road outside the railway station has significant information about the circumstances surrounding the murder.

They would like to speak to this person or anyone who saw the vehicle being left at Hawkesburn railway station.

Police also believe there is a possibility someone may have seen some activity in the driveway of the Hope Street address in or around the time of the couple’s death on 25 May.

Despite an extensive and thorough investigation over the past three decades, the person or persons who violently killed May and Joseph have never been identified.

May was very house proud and enjoyed regular trips to the local shops with friends. She had no children however she was a loved member of a large, extended family. 

May and Joseph are dearly missed by their family and friends who to this day find it difficult to understand the sheer brutality directed towards the couple.

Detectives are hopeful that over 30 years after their death, someone will be able to provide information about who was responsible for May and Joseph’s murders and why.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report via the Crime Stoppers Victoria website.(opens in a new window)

May Rosser smiling while wearing a pink and white outfit in a garden
May Rosser
Photo of Joseph Shackleton wearing glasses and smiling
Joseph Shackleton