“Such is Life”: Ned Kelly’s Headless Body Found In Australia

Ned Kelly, the Irish Australian bush bandit, is one of the great characters from the nineteenth century. Now, researchers have identified the headless remains of Kelly, who was captured after one of the most spectacular shootouts in history.

Edward “Ned” Kelly became a symbol of resistance to British rule in the late 1800s though the British viewed him as nothing other than a murderer and thief. The son of a convict, Kelly was always on the wrong side of the police growing up. When police went searching for him in the bush in 1878 after he was accused of shooting Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick in his left wrist. Kelly killed three police officers searching for him. After a long and violent career as a bank robber, Kelly had his famous showdown in Glenrowan on June 28, 1880. Kelly had created a suit of armor with a helmet and fought it out with police. His three colleagues also made suits of armor though their legs were left unprotected. The unprotected legs (and a faulty bolt) proved his undoing. Each man’s armour weighed about 96 pounds. He was wounded in the extraordinary fight with Kelly walking toward the police and firing while bullets pinged off his armor. He was repeatedly wounded and eventually tried and convicted. He was hanged for murder at Old Melbourne Gaol in November 1880. The skeleton was found and identified from DNA in the Old Melbourne Gaol’s mass graveyard.

The skeleton is headless because (in an ironic twist for a bank robber) his head was stolen after it was first put on display in 1929. When officials showed the remains, a mob surged into the yard and stole some of the remains, including his skull. Went the skull was later recovered, it was put on display at the Old Melbourne Gaol. It was then stolen again. On Nov. 11, 2009, a farmer from Western Australia state named Tom Baxter came forward and gave the skull to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine what he said was the stolen skull with the inscription “E. Kelly” on its side. It turned out that it was not the actual skull of Kelly, just some unfortunate now headless bloke.

In the ultimate elevation from bank robber to world-class criminal personality, Kelly was honored at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when actors on stilts dressed in similar armor were featured in the opening ceremony.

It appears that Kelly still draws some to the life of crime. Police are now investigating a suspicious fire at the home of Kelly’s judge – following the confirmation of the identity of Kelly’s remains.

I expect Kelly would have taken the theft of head in stride. Before he was hanged, his final words were reportedly “Such is life”

Source: Yahoo

Jonathan Turley

12 thoughts on ““Such is Life”: Ned Kelly’s Headless Body Found In Australia”

  1. The latest example of misguided hero worship? The Republican Party in Pima County, Arizona, is raffling off a Glock pistol identical to the one used to shoot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head and to kill six others. Sick, sick, sick.

  2. OS – well said. I’d add Jesse James & John Dillinger to the list of murderous ‘heroes’.

    John Dillinger never murdered anyone. He was charged with – but never convicted – of the murder of a cop, but the murder was committed by one of his gang members. (Yeah, I know that makes him guilty under criminal conspiracy laws). Dillinger prided himself on getting things done without people getting hurt.

  3. Another name for the list of murderous thugs who get lionized after death: Tiburicio Vasquez.

  4. OS – well said. I’d add Jesse James & John Dillinger to the list of murderous ‘heroes’. Half the murderous rapist thugs who gained rank in the army of succession in defense of human bondage are labeled as if they were heros also. Quantrell spawned James, Forrest the KKK, yet somehow a portion of America views them as knights of a great lost cause.

    And we are not alone in this. How about “The Charge Of the Light Brigade”? Failed military adventures make the best celebrations because they are tragic and make all the other sacrifices seem less so in comparison.

  5. Zv, we have lots of parallels in the US. We make cult heroes out of people like Bonnie & Clyde, not to mention Butch & the Sundance Kid. At the same time, the most poignant war memorial on the Washington Mall is the Vietnam Wall. The war entered on a lie, conducted as if the Keystone Kops were running it, and destroying untold thousands of lives on both side. Yet during that war, like Gallipoli, there were acts of unbelievable heroism and sacrifice on the part of troops doing the fighting.

    Some things make you want to resign your membership in the human race.

  6. To give our American friends some context:

    For some reason we celebrate one of the most incompetent military campaigns ever at Gallipoli in The Great War and a guy who robbed banks but shot a couple of Policemen.

    What’s the US equivalent?

  7. Well OS, we all end up somewhere…regardless of where we want to remain…

  8. He was one tough guy. That bullet hole in his femur had to smart something fierce.

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