This is the story of a gruesome unsolved murder believed to have been committed as part of a major Opal robbery.
It’s 1999. In Australian news, An unprecedented rush for Telstra shares raise Australian share prices to a record high. In Sydney, Stadium Australia was completed at the cost of A$690 million in readiness to host the 2000 Summer Olympics.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, creates an uproar when he avoids the use of the word ‘sorry’ during a speech in Parliament,

expressing deep & sincere regret that indigenous Australians suffered injustices under the practices of past generations.

In South Australia, our population hit 1.5 million people, and records show that in 1999, there were 11,300 deaths.


In May, the world was reeling from the news of 8 dismembered bodies discovered in acid-filled plastic barrels in Snow Town, South Australia, a disused bank vault.
Police later attributed a further 3 deaths to the same killers.
These murders became known as the snow town serial killers or the bodies in the barrels murders
Including the following story.


On Monday the 16th of August of the same year, Franco Murat, a 60-year-old French national, was asleep in his Prospect Road Blair Athol residence. Somehow, he had a pillowcase placed over his head, accelerant poured over him, and then set alight.

This much of this story is indisputable.

The rest is up for interpretation and who you believe, even though there is still a reward of $200000 for information leading to an arrest.

This is where the story twists.


First, we need to go back to early 1939, Sardinia, Italy, Franco was born to a Swiss mother and an Italian father.
Even In neutral Switzerland, Franco grew up hard.
As a teenager, Franco made a living as a professional boxer until a friend talked him into joining the Italian Army as a commando.
About 4 years into his Army career, Franco had saved up enough money to purchase one of the first Lamborghini’s to roll of the production line.
Unfortunately, he had only owned the car for 5 days when a fellow commando asked to be taken for a drive in the exotic sports car.
Franco showed off at top speed and ran the car sideways into a building, killing his passenger.


The family lived in several houses over the next few years, but no single house for very long. Franco had become more and more violent and abusive to both his wife and children.
His eldest child, daughter Francis, fled overseas as soon as she turned 18, never to return.
The middle child, Son, Sebastien, Moved to Queensland and took up free diving.
The Youngest son, Nicolas, was the only person who would stand up to him.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before Rena left and divorced him.
All the time he lived in Australia, It was known, Franco went opal hunting whenever possible, and family members believed he had quite a collection stashed away.

This is where the story takes a bitter twist, depending on who you believe.


On the 15th of August, Franco phoned his ex-wife and threatened to shoot and kill her if she didn’t return to the family home.
She didn’t return.

The next night, cars driving down Prospect Road, Blair Athol, came upon a man, badly burnt, in the street, screaming. Neighbours called the police and an Ambulance.

While in the ambulance, the man informed the police of his name. Franco Murat. And he told a story that he had been asleep. 3 people had broken into his house. Put a pillowcase over his head. poured petrol over him and set him on fire.[BREATHING B=’1500′]

Apparently. According to Franco. They had been after his opals.

He could not describe their faces. But stated that there were 2 men and a woman.

The police examined his house. And could see where the fire had been, and the house looked ransacked, but there was still some precious jewellery laying about that was untouched.


The Ambulance took Franco to the hospital. He had third-degree burns to 30 per cent of his body. And was put into an induced coma. Franco died 3 weeks later, on the third of September.

The police continued to treat it as a robbery murder. but not one clue or piece of evidence has turned up after 20 plus years

However, Sebastion Murat Claims it was a suicide. Staged to frame his brother Nicolas.

If you knew my old man, that’s the kind of extreme thing he was capable of.

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