Henry Keogh

South Australia
Date of Alleged Crime:  March 18, 1994

Henry Vincent Keogh was convicted of the murder of his 29-year-old fiancée, Anna-Jane Cheney. Cheney was found dead in the bathtub of the home that the two shared on Homes Ave. in Magill, an Adelaide suburb. On the day of her death, Cheney finished work and met Keogh in a local hotel where the two had wine and potato wedges. Both of them went home to Anna's house but drove there in separate cars. Cheney then took her dog to her sister-in-law's house and the two women walked their dogs in a local park. After Cheney returned home, Keogh went to visit his mother. Keogh returned home around 9:30 p.m. and found Cheney slumped in her bathtub with her face underwater. He claimed he tried to resuscitate her, but neither he nor paramedics were successful. Cheney's blood alcohol level was later determined to be .08%, a moderate level of intoxication.

Police who visited the scene of Cheney's death determined that there were no suspicious circumstances. Cheney's death occurred just five weeks before she and Keogh were due to marry. Two days later Dr. Colin Manock performed an autopsy on her. Although Manock was South Australia's Chief Forensic Pathologist, he did not possess proper training as a pathologist. He was also under investigation for evidence of incompetency in past work as a pathologist. Manock began to raise suspicions about Cheney's death, but he did not have a second pathologist check his work and he allowed Cheney's body to be cremated. Since the cremation occurred long before Keogh was arrested or charged, neither he nor a defense lawyer were afforded the opportunity to check the pathology evidence or test for medical conditions which may have caused Cheney's death.

Keogh had five life insurance policies totaling $1.15 million on Cheney taken out some 12 months previously. Cheney knew about at least some of the policies. Keogh explained that in his work for the State Bank he had agencies with the five life insurance companies. He had a policy with each insurance company to encourage them to keep his agencies open. The policies cost $1831 annually. Keogh said that the commissions he would earn on the policies would cover their cost, and he could give the impression of doing some business without it actually costing him anything. Keogh also said that when he took out each policy he had stated in writing that he had no other life insurance policies. Such statements would have invalidated four out of the five policies. Keogh said he might be able to collect on several policies if they were taken out in a large city like New York or London, but in a small city like Adelaide, insurance companies would learn about the other policies. Keogh continued to pay the premiums after Cheney's death, suggesting they were used to maintain his agencies. Keogh had also taken out two policies on himself totaling $700,000.

Keogh had been seeing other women including his ex-wife, although it is not clear what relationship he was having with them. He had three children with his ex-wife and regularly saw her when he visited them. Keogh was arrested and charged with murder before any medical evidence was asserted against him. Medical evidence was required to prosecute Keogh as the law did not permit him to be convicted on motive evidence alone. Dr. Manock eventually asserted that Keogh drowned Cheney by holding up her legs so her head would be forced under water. Black and white autopsy photographs showed three marks on Cheney's outside left calf and one mark on her inside left calf. Manock alleged these were bruises caused by Keogh's fingers and thumb while holding Cheney's leg.

It would appear, however, that even if Keogh had tried to drown Cheney in this manner, she would still be able to hold her head above water with her arms, and if need be, would have struggled violently, sustaining many bruises before she drowned. Evidence of such bruising was largely absent. The bath was only one-third full. Also, such a manner of drowning would have left Cheney's right leg free to kick Keogh in his head and torso and presumably overcome Keogh's hold on her. Thirdly there were serious reasons to doubt that the marks on Cheney were caused by Keogh's hand. The alleged finger mark bruises were not of the same approximate size as one would expect. A sample of the alleged thumb mark could not be determined to be a bruise. Fourthly if Keogh did hold up Cheney's leg, it would have been more natural for him to hold it more strongly by wrapping his hand around her ankle rather than gripping it near the middle of her calf.

At the time of Cheney's death, her body was checked and no marks were found on it. It was only at the autopsy that the alleged grip marks were found on her left leg. Seven marks were also found on her right leg, and two marks apiece were found on her head and neck. It was suggested that these marks could have been caused after Cheney's death by rough handling of her body.

Following Keogh's conviction, several medical experts provided affidavits indicating that the autopsy done by Dr. Manock was grossly inadequate to determine cause of death. The autopsy failed to rule out other possible causes of sudden death such as anaphylactic shock, heart disease, or brain aneurysm. Cheney suffered from allergies and an allergic reaction can cause anaphylactic shock. She was found with swelling of the face and lips which is a symptom of such shock. Other symptoms of such shock include difficulty in swallowing and breathing, along with fainting. Ambulance personnel reported having difficultly establishing an airway to resuscitate Cheney, suggesting her windpipe may have swollen due to such shock. Cheney's past medical records were never made available, without which it is impossible to determine her prior health.

Keogh appealed his conviction many times, but as of 2010, he has been unsuccessful in getting it overturned. Dr. Robert N. Moles published a 2006 book about Keogh's case entitled Losing Their Grip: The Case of Henry Keogh.  [2/10]


Reference:  Networked Knowledge

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Australia/New Zealand Cases, Self-Caused Accidental Deaths (Involuntary Suicides)