Ljube Velevski

New South Wales, Australia
Date of Crime:  June 1994

Ljube Velevski was convicted of murdering his wife, Snezana, his daughter, Zaklina, age 6, and his twin babies, Daniela and Dijana, age 3 months. The throats of all the deceased had been cut. At trial, Velevski's defence argued that Snezana had killed her three children, then herself. The killings occurred in a three bedroom suburban house in Berkeley, Wollongong, New South Wales. Velevski's parents lived with Velevski and his family at the time of the killings.

On the morning of Sunday, June 19, 1994, Velevski had an argument with Snezana about her mother refusing to care for their children while they went shopping. Their daughter, Zaklina, had been staying with her mother's parents and Velevski then went over to their house, collected Zaklina, and brought her home. On his return, Snezana said that “[b]ecause you have taken our daughter from my mother's place, I don't like your family too so you have to get rid of your parents.” This, Velevski said, he agreed to do. During the conversation (to which Velevski's mother was said to be a party), Snezana proposed that she could “go and find a place and rent it out” (for herself). Snezana then, at about 11 a.m., went into the main bedroom with their the couple's twin babies, slamming and locking the door behind her.

At about about 1 p.m., Velevski went into Zaklina's bedroom next to the main bedroom. While there he laid down and fell asleep, and did not emerge from the room until 17 hours later, which was 6 a.m. the next morning. By his own account he slept most of the time, and did not leave it to eat, drink, or even to empty his bladder. At 6 a.m., when Velevski emerged from the room, he encountered his father. He and his father tried to open the door to the main bedroom, but could not, because it was locked. He knocked, but there was no answer.

Even though it was early in the day, and despite having to waken his mother who had suffered a stroke some years earlier, and was infirm, Velevski set about moving his parents from his home at once. Moving his parents required two trips to his sister's house but it seems his parents accompanied him on both. At about 8:30 a.m., Velevski finally dropped his parents off at his sister's house which was about half an hour away from his house. He then returned home.

At about 10:30 a.m., he went to the Macedonian welfare centre to seek advice. During that visit he told a social worker that he had “family problems, marriage problems” and that he thought it was “because we live with my parents and she doesn't like it”. In addition, he said that his mother-in-law “gets very much involved in our marriage.” Velevski told the social worker several times that he could not get “inside the house” but later made reference to some indoor “latches.” The social worker asked whether he had checked if Zaklina was at school or had checked Snezana's whereabouts with his mother-in-law. He said he had not and that he did not have a telephone number for his parents-in-law.

Soon afterwards he went to Zaklina's school, even though he had seen Zaklina's school bag in the house. He asked if she was in school, and gave officials a note he had found in her bag regarding being absent from school the previous Friday. He then went home and stayed there for three hours, without trying to speak to his wife.

At about 3:30 p.m., he spoke to neighbours, one of whom called police. Police came to the house and broke into the main bedroom soon after 4 p.m. There they found the dead bodies of Snezana and her three children in the space between the edge of the main bed and the cot where the twins usually slept. Snezana's body laid on top of the bodies of the children. A kitchen knife was found under her body. The deaths were believed to have occurred between 9 p.m. the previous night and 5 a.m. that morning. Velevski had heard no commotion from the main bedroom while he was sleeping in the room next to it. Nor had his parents, although their bedroom was down a corridor from the other two bedrooms.

At Velevski's trial, medical experts disagreed on whether Snezana committed suicide or was murdered. It was assumed that the person responsible for Snezana's death had also murdered the children. There was no evidence of any struggle and blood evidence was confined to a small area of the bedroom close to the floor. There was no trace of blood anywhere else in the house. Evidence indicated Snezana and the children's bodies were moved or turned after Snezana left a significant pool of blood from herself. Snezana could be responsible for these movements, but if one presumes Snezana was incapacitated at this time, then someone else had to have moved the bodies. Medical testimony failed to prove that Snezana would have been incapacitated. A locksmith gave evidence that the door to the bedroom could be unlocked from outside the room and the door closed from the outside in such a way as to leave the door locked.

Velevski's claim that he slept more or less for 17 hours is suspicious, but since the latter half of this period was after dusk, he may have remained in bed simply because it was night. His claim, though, is irrelevant in the determination of guilt as the burden of proof rests with the prosecution.

For the most part, the evidence is inconclusive as to whether Velevski or Szenana were responsible for the deaths. However, Velevski's behavior on the morning following the deaths appears consistent only with his innocence. This behavior indicated he believed Snezana was alive and he wanted to end his dispute with her. In compliance with Snezana's wishes, he moved his parents to his sister's house and he sought counseling in regard to the dispute. He seemed confused about where Zaklina was, and in response to his counselor's suggestion he checked whether she was at school. It appears unlikely that an actual killer would perform such actions in an attempt at a cover-up. In 2002, Velevski appealed his conviction to the Australian High Court, but his appeal was denied.  [8/09]


References:  Velevski v. the QueenNetworked Knowledge

Posted in:  Victims of the StateAustralia/New Zealand Cases, Quadruple Homicide Cases