They Killed the Man she Loved but her Fight for Justice Would Claim her

Jax Hudur

The brutal murder of a couple and the quest for justice in a city plagued by police corruption

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Sallie-Anne HucksteppSydney Crime Museum

As a 17-year-old, Sallie-Anne dropped out of school and left the suburbs of East Sydney, where she grew up and married Bryan Huckstepp, a troubled heroin addict. Together, the couple relocated to Western Australia. Sallie-Anne was born as Sallie-Anne Krivoshow to a middle-class Jewish family. Unfortunately for Sallie-Anne and her younger sister, their parents divorced when they were still in pre-school. As a result, the girls were sent to live with their strict Jewish grandmother when Sallie-Anne’s mom left them. Despite the change, the girls were comfortable with their new surroundings and bonded with their aunt, who would often take them to the beach to play.

Sallie-Anne was a good student who received good grades and did well outside of school as she appeared in the tv show “Jimmy O’Keefe show.” Sallie-Anne was six years old when she and her sister accompanied their dad’s friend, a producer for Channel 7 at the time. Sallie-Anne eventually did modeling work as a child, appearing in Grace bros and Farmer’s catalog. However, her world would soon be shattered when her father, Jack Krivoshow, remarried and brought home Ella, his new wife. Sallie-Anne found herself in Ella’s cross hairs as the new stepmom did not tolerate Sallie-Anne’s strong-willed personality.

Home became a place of violence and abuse for Sallie-Anne. Her relationship with her father became difficult, quickly deteriorating to the point that Jack Krivoshow phoned the children’s court requesting the removal of his teenage daughter from the family home. As a fourteen-year-old, Sallie-Anne was arrested at a remand center.

Sallie-Anne’s contact with the underworld

Sallie-Anne was introduced to the criminal underworld by her husband Bryan Huckstepp, who pushed his 17-year-old wife to prostitution to finance his heroin drug addiction. By the time Sallie-Anne and Bryan returned to Sydney, she continued doing sex work, but this time not only to finance Bryan’s addiction but also to finance her own heroin addiction.

Because of her drug problems and prostitution, Sallie-Anne became known to the police as she amassed drug and prostitution convictions. In one of these convictions, a court-ordered Sallie-Anne to undergo treatment at Chelmsford, a notorious hospital whose chief psychiatrist Harry Bailey committed suicide while under investigation.

Eighty-five deaths, including 19 suicides, were linked to his deep sleep therapy that involved putting patients into a coma lasting up to 39 days. Sallie-Anne was one of his patients, and when she came out of Bailey’s treatment, her sister Debra said, “She was down to four and a half stones. She couldn’t talk, she couldn’t walk. They’d given her 14 shock treatments over 15 days.” Debra believes that her sister never recovered from Bailey’s electric shocks. Still, shortly after her Chelmsford experience, Sallie-Anne got to know Warren Lanfranchi, a recently released inmate of Long Bay.

Deep in love

Warren Lan<u>franch</u>iSydney Crime Museum

Warren Lanfranchi was a heroin dealer and enforcer. This fateful meeting of Sallie-Anne and Lanfranchi rolled the dice for the pair; it was the beginning of the end, but for Sallie-Anne, who has endured a lot over the years, did not perhaps grasp the weight of what was about to happen. Maybe it was the pace Sallie-Anne’s new relationship with Lanfranchi was developing as he and Sallie-Anne were smitten. She and Lanfranchi moved in together just two weeks into the relationship.

Warren Lanfranchi was a violent man with a romantic streak who did not judge how Sallie-Anne financially supported herself; Lanfranchi got her off heroin. Not only did he clean her up, but he also treated her better than any man before. For Sallie-Anne and Lanfranchi, it did not matter how short their coming together was; they had dreams that involved starting over afresh. This meant that they needed money and passports though it was unclear, or perhaps they didn’t quite understand how to go about it. After all, all they knew were working the streets, and if there was to be a solution, it was the streets where they turned to find their answers.

At the time, Warren Lanfranchi was working for Neddy Smith, a hardened career criminal and a crime boss who had capital offenses under his rap sheet that included murder, rape, and human trafficking. Lanfranchi and Neddy Smith met and formed a business relationship while they were both incarcerated in jail. For Lanfranchi, Neddy Smith represented the ideal criminal, and unfortunately for Lanfranchi, he robbed heroin from two well-connected drug dealers. The heroin Lanfranchi stole belonged to none other than one of Australia’s most honored detectives, detective Sergeant Roger Caleb Rogerson of the New South Wales Police Force. He was commonly referred to as Roger Rogerson.

The respected detective and his involvement

Detective Roger Rogerson - Early yearsSydney Crime Museum
Detective Rogerson was an aspiring future police commissioner who was not only respected, but his mere word was strong enough to gain convictions even if the interviews or the confessions of the prisoners were unsigned. The weight of Rogerson’s reputation was based on bravery, which garnered him thirteen awards for loyalty and dedication, as well as the highest annual police award, the Peter Mitchel Trophy.

Underneath the badge, however, was an unforgiving sinister character who not only provided protection for criminals but also managed a cabal of crooked cops who were the key distributors of heroin. For these police officers, anyone who crossed them was crossed off from existence. As soon as Lanfranchi realized whom he had crossed, he and his girlfriend, Sallie-Anne, went into hiding, fearing detective Rogerson’s reprisal for the stolen drugs.

The fear was justified as Rogerson had another reputation in the underworld; he was an unhinged killer cop. Therefore, when a journalist asked Sallie-Anne why she and Lanfranchi couldn’t simply return what they stole from Detective Rogerson, she replied, “Because we were terrified. Detective Rogerson has a reputation as being a killer. In fact, Warren was so terrified that he went and bought himself a gun, and he used to sleep with it next to the bed because we were terrified that Rogerson was going to find out where we were and come kill us both.”

The Murder of Warren Lanfranchi

It is not a small feat to be hunted by Sydney’s dirtiest cop; it was only a question of time when detective Rogerson would find them. Finally, however, an opportunity presented itself as Lanfranchi’s boss Neddy Smith made a deal with detective Rogerson. It was the break Lanfranchi, and his girlfriend needed, one that they hoped would get Rogerson off their back. The deal was simple; detective Rogerson would point out who, when, and where to rob, and Lanfranchi would conduct the robbery. As a result, Rogerson would get his drug’s worth money, and Lanfranchi would have a clean slate with Rogerson. Unfortunately, the deal proved to be too good to be true for Lanfranchi, and for Rogerson, his hubris would soon catch up with him.

The deal turned out to be a setup. As soon as Lanfranchi walked in, he was executed, a gunshot wound to the body followed by a close-range gunshot to the head. He was murdered in cold blood at the hands of detective Rogerson in broad daylight. Lanfranchi was only 22 years old. The brutal murder was not only premeditated, but detective Rogerson had his cabal of corrupt drug squad lay in wait nearby. They were his witnesses to whitewash the murder as self-defense.

Journalists were gripped with the question of why detective Rogerson had to bloody his hands when anyone of his corrupt colleagues or even the criminals that worked for him could as easily murder Lanfranchi on his orders. Why did Rogerson take that colossal of a risk and murder someone in the open in broad daylight?

The investigation

After Warren Lanfranchi’s murder, the following day’s newspapers carried headlines such as “When Lanfranchi confronted the police,” which painted detective Rogerson as the hero who confronted and overcame evil. The killing of Lanfranchi baffled seasoned police detectives as well as forensic officers. The gunshot that murdered Lanfranchi was the second shot that Rogerson fired in close range. Why not arrest him since he was already wounded? These were suspicions that the investigators kept to themselves; they couldn’t go against Rogerson’s reputation and the witness testimonies of Rogerson’s thugs in uniform. However, Sallie-Anne, who paid bribes to these corrupt officers for years, wouldn’t let them take anything from her ever again. A line has been crossed, and she was willing to do everything in her powers to seek justice by any means necessary.

A few days later, Journalist Ray Martin sat down with Sallie-Anne and listened to what she had to say; he couldn’t believe the words he was hearing. Yet, Sallie-Anne’s eloquence and the pain in her words were convincing; he believed her. It was as if his entire belief was shattered in the police. Soon, an entire country’s belief in their police would be ruined, and like Ray Martin, they would have to come to terms with the truth.

Sallie-Ann told 60 minutes’ Ray Martin, “I have been paying the police for ten years as a prostitute. My ex-husband was a criminal, and I paid the police many times for him. I would be quite happy to go on paying the police because it’s a way of life, and it’s the way you survive, but when the police become judge, jury, and executioner, then somebody has to speak up. Somebody has to come forward. Somebody has to start somewhere and stop it. Everybody, no matter who they are, heroin dealers, murderers, thieves. Everybody is entitled to justice.” These words were as profound as they were damning, and precisely because of this, only snippets of the interview were aired; the rest of the interview collected dust in the archives. It would take four decades for them to come out.

Merely four months after Warren Lanfrachi’s murder, an inquest was held because of Sallie-Anne’s interviews. A coronal jury accepted that detective Rogerson was acting in the line of duty but denied his self-defense claim. Witnesses who heard the shots came forward as they testified that contrary to Rogerson’s claim that the bullets that killed Lanfranchi were successive, they heard that there were gaps between the two shots that Rogerson had fired. A picture emerged based on the witnesses who heard the shots, Sallie-Anne’s interviews, and the second close-range shot to the head that killed Lanfranchi. Detective Rogerson’s explanation of the shooting didn’t hold up to the facts.

Though Rogerson’s reputation suffered, he continued with his police work. His employment with the New South Wales police department would nearly cost an honest police officer’s life as detective Mick Drury turned down Rogerson’s bribe offer. He was shot through the window of his house. It was believed that Rogerson had used a contract assassin to carry out the hit. This was merely three years after the Lanfranchi murder.

Sallie-Anne’s last stand

Sallie-Anne’s life took a turn; her boyfriend’s murder and the fight for justice forced her to turn towards writing, becoming a journalist. She knew the thugs she exposed would eventually get her. Yet, when she told Journalist Ray Martin in a never broadcast part of the Interview, “I am quite sure that the police would probably kill me,” one can’t help but admire the courage Sallie-Anne expressed in the face of such mortal danger in her fight for justice.

On the night of February 6th, 1986, Sallie-Anne’s phone rings. Moments later, a startled Sallie-Anne goes out. The following day a dog walker finds a woman floating face down in Sydney’s Centennial park’s Busby Pond. The woman is Sallie-Anne Huckstepp; the police later determined that she was strangled. Her fight with police corruption has forever silenced her voice, but it was already too late for them. She had won as two months later, Rogerson was fired and convicted for perverting the course of justice. He was arrested and spent forty-five months behind bars after an unsuccessful appeal.

Speaking on Sallie-Anne’s murder, a bitter Roger Rogerson said, “I was shocked when I learned that Sallie-Anne Huckstepp had been murdered here in centennial park. I think it was because she was a very attractive and a good-looking little bird, but she got a lot of sympathy from different people, including members of the media and the public, but she really was just a typical common prostitute.” Even in death, Rogerson couldn’t see Sallie-Anne as the courageous woman she was. All he saw was an object that deserved his contempt. He was a monster let loose but eventually brought down by one young woman’s quest for justice. Sallie-Anne drew a line against police corruption and held her ground till her last breath.

One of the longest-running inquests was held into Sallie-Anne’s murder. A recording of Neddy Smith bragging and confessing to an inmate about strangling Sallie-Anne emerged, which led to Sallie-Anne’s body getting exhumed for DNA testing. Despite going to trial for Sallie-Anne’s murder, Neddy smith was acquitted in 1999. He later recounted saying he knew he was being recorded and went along with it to promote his book. He served two life sentences for separate murders unrelated to Sallie-Anne’s murder.

The aftermath

Though late, the law finally caught up with the disgraced former cop, Roger Rogerson. He had been drinking with a prosecutor friend of his on the night of Sallie-Anne’s murder, cementing his alibi. However, in May 2014, Rogerson was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 20-year-old UTS (University of Technology Sydney) student Jamie Gao in a drug deal gone wrong. Rogerson is now 80 years old and in prison, while Neddy Smith died in the Long Bay prison hospital on September 8th, 2021. He was 76 years old.

Sallie-Anne is survived by her daughter Sascha Huckstepp whom she had in 1973. Sascha is an actress and a casting agent. The Sydney band’s Spy vs. Spy song “Sallie-Anne” was inspired and is a tribute to Sallie-Anne Huckstepp. No one has ever been convicted for Sallie-Anne’s murder, the crime remains unsolved.

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I write about history, politics and true crime. Not to mention anything else that takes my fancy or newsworthy. "No special talents. Only passionately curious." Albert Einstein

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