Eddie Crabbe: Reward for info on gay man’s 1982 Gold Coast murder

Eddie Crabbe and a digital image of his alleged killer on Gold Coast 1982
Images: Queensland Police

Queensland Police have launched a fresh appeal for information in the violent 1982 murder of a gay man beaten and stabbed to death in a Gold Coast apartment.

Brisbane storeman Owen “Eddie” Crabbe travelled by bus to Surfers Paradise for a weekend away on Friday, May 28, 1982.

The Paddington man had withdrawn more than $600 from his bank account and told friends he planned to spend the weekend with a man named Michael.

The 57-year-old had recently come out as gay, and booked room 2707 at Beachcomber Apartments. At check-in on the Friday afternoon, he said two adults would stay in the room.

Later that evening, between 7.00pm and 8.00pm, Eddie walked through the reception with another man. He visited several nightclubs that weekend on the Coast.

Crabbe was last seen alive early on the Sunday of that weekend. He wearing a dark sports coat as he left Connexions Night Club with the man police believe murdered him.

The two men drank together before Eddie was violently assaulted and fatally stabbed. Investigators at the time determined the alleged offender was also severely injured in the hotel room.

Gay man Eddie Crabbe with son Tracey
Eddie Crabbe and his son Tracey

On Monday (May 30), Crabbe had failed to check out of the hotel. Cleaners found the man’s bloodied body inside the apartment.

Eddie Crabbe Gold Coast cold case reopened in 2020

The Homicide Cold Case Investigation Team undertook a full review of the case in 2020.

At the scene of Crabbe’s murder, blood was found believed to belong to the offender. Witnesses had described him as in his 20s, of average height and with long scruffy hair.

The full DNA profile of the man doesn’t match anyone currently in DNA databases. However scientists believe the killer is of European descent and have released a new facial image from DNA technology.

Digital image into Eddie Crabbe's alleged killer
A new digital image of Eddie Crabbe’s alleged killer.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tara Kentwell of the Homicide Cold Case Investigation Team said significant forensic breakthroughs in genetic genealogy have generated leads.

She said they’ve identified “the likely ancestry of the alleged offender and facial characteristics through a technique called DNA phenotyping”.

Detective Senior Sergeant Kentwell said while the technology was aiding the investigation, information from the public is vital to solving this case.

Gold Coast Beachcomber Hotel in 1982
Beachcomber Hotel on the Gold Coast in the 1980s

“All it could take is one person who recognises the image or details to come forward, one DNA match,” she said.

“This could help us identify the man and find answers for Eddie’s family.”

Crabbe’s son Tracey was just 13 when his father was murdered. He said 40 years on, he’s hopeful of answers in the unsolved murder.

“Whether you were at one of the clubs that night [or] you saw my father or someone who was a bit not quite right, please come forward,” Tracey said.

$500,000 reward for information

Queensland Police are offering a $500,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of Eddie Crabbe’s killer.

Sketch of Eddie Crabbe's killer in 1982 cold case murder
Sketch of Eddie Crabbe’s killer from 1982 after Gold Coast murder

Police Minister Mark Ryan said an appropriate indemnity from prosecution would also be considered for any accomplice.

“A $500,000 reward is now in place for information that may lead to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Owen Edward Crabbe,” Ryan said.

“I particularly stress the importance of the matter of indemnity offered along with this reward.

“Any person who was involved in the crime but did not commit the crime who comes forward and speaks with police, is eligible for this indemnity from prosecution.

“No one should need a reason to come forward and assist police in this matter. But today, we are giving you 500,000 reasons.”

Report information anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or report online at www.crimestoppersqld.com.au.

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