True Crime

Beyond The Grave: How Three Women’s Deaths Made Domestic Violence A Topic Of Great Urgency

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a scourge that takes the lives of innocent people every day – Women are the most spoken-about victims, but it also affects men. We’ve spoken about how Amber Heard portrayed herself as a victim of Johnny Depp. It later came out that he was her victim. Melissa Benoist revealed that she survived domestic abuse from her ex who, a year later, lied and said he was a victim when evidence exists that he wasn’t.

While Melissa and Johnny are famous and have a platform, the women we’re talking about in this post do not.

We want you to remember these names; Maria Korp. Lisa Harnum. Allison Baden-Clay. While they were strangers, they were all victims of domestic violence. We’re going to examine what happened to these ladies and how their stories serve are privy to the sensitivity of the topic.

Before we begin, we want to convey that this is just our opinion and overall thoughts based upon evidence.

“Domestic Violence Will Never Happen To Me.”

Many people in relationships are under the assumption that domestic violence will never happen to them. It doesn’t need to be physical. It can be mental, verbal, sexual, financial, and/or psychological. Maria, Lisa, and Allison suffered one of these types at the hands of their partners.

We wanted to highlight the tragedies these women faced and how their deaths have sparked conversations.

The Body In The Boot – Maria Korp

Maria Korp was a Melbourne mother of two. Her daughter was from a previous relationship, while her son was the child she had with her husband, Joe. On February 13, 2005, she was reported missing. Four days later, she was found barely alive in the back of a car. According to Narelle Fraser, a former police detective who worked on the case told Studio 10 in 2017 that Maria’s body was deteriorating.

When the boot was opened, Maria appeared to be deceased. There were no signs of life. However, Narelle felt her chest and realised she was alive. Maria died on August 5, 2005, at 2am, after being removed from life support. As the police investigated, they discovered that Maria and Joe’s marriage was struggling. Maria was desperately trying to reignite the passion. Narelle Fraser told the Australian True Crime podcast in 2017 that the Korps were looking for a threesome and found Tania Herman.

The Affair

Over time, Tania and Joe had an affair, which led to a plot to kill Maria. According to a Marie Claire article, Joe and Tania planned on choking her. After they’d accomplished this, they put the body in the back of Maria’s car and abandoned it.

According to Narelle, Joe reported his wife missing and not his brother (Maria’s brother-in-law) as it was alleged. As it turns out, Tania is the one who did the crime, but Joe helped in the execution of the plan.

The case was plagued with issues since Maria couldn’t make decisions. Her brother-in-law, Gus Korp, took a photo of her in a coma and tried to make money by selling it. Laura, Maria’s daughter, had to go to court to stop it. She was also unable to make decisions for her mother due to other issues that had come up.

Maria’s Death Caused Controversy And Joe’s Suicide

Maria wasn’t going to recover and hadn’t gained consciousness. An advocate had to decide to cease life support. Furthermore, this ultimately caused issues with anti-euthanasia campaigners who staged peaceful protests outside the hospital. They wanted to “save” her life. Unfortunately, the staff tending to her couldn’t stabilise her anymore. Laura didn’t resist the advocate’s decision to pull her mother’s life support.

Much of Maria’s family were against the advocate’s decision.

On the day of Maria’s funeral, Joe Korp committed suicide. According to reports, he rang his ex-wife and a journalist, telling them his plan to kill himself. The former wife and the journalist rang the police, who rushed to the Korp residence in time to witness him commit suicide.

Joe’s body was surrounded by photos of Maria, football merchandise, and notes saying he was innocent of his wife’s death.

Joe’s Cowardice

Joe was a coward for having Tania carry out the crime. His desire to be rid of his wife but not follow through with the crime himself shows his unwillingness to get his hands dirty. Moreover, this is where the letters of innocence found with his body come into play. His desire to pin the crime on Tania reveals a man that believed he was innocent but wasn’t. He was attempting to distance himself from the crime he helped orchestrate.

Also, he didn’t want to go to prison, so he took the easy way out.

What Followed Afterward?

Tania Herman was found guilty of attempted murder and received a sentence of twelve years with nine years of non-parole in mid-2005. She was released in 2014.

In 2006, a book written by journalist Carly Crawford called: The Maria Korp Case: The Woman In The Boot. This book would inspire the television film that would release four years later.

Five years after the crime in 2010, a television film, Wicked Love: The Maria Korp Story, dropped on Channel Nine starring Rebecca Gibney and Vince Colosimo as Maria and Joe, respectively. The film is told from the perspective of Maria telling her tale from the crypt.

There was also an opera created called Midnight Son in 2012, inspired by Maria’s death.

The Form Of Domestic Violence

We need to discuss the element of domestic violence. While Joe didn’t hurt Maria directly, he had Tania inflict her with torture that eventually took her life. Also, Maria’s death is described as a homicide with no visible domestic violence elements.

The telefilm, inspired by the book, presents the hypothesis that Joe played a role in the attack. Narelle Fraser told the Australia True Crime Podcast that Joe was partially responsible. Therefore, the blame was not put squarely on Tania.

The film, according to TVTonight, depicts Maria as someone who should be pitied. While she does deserve sympathy, we need to look at the larger picture regarding Joe and Tania. While we will never know what went on truthfully behind closed doors, the film does offer a unique perspective. However, it is not THE truth. The movie’s events don’t match what is in the public domain about the case.

It’s unclear what type of domestic violence would’ve been placed upon Maria as it was not classified as a domestic violence case. Though, given that Joe wanted her gone, just the thought alone and consequences that followed should be enough. Just his involvement in plotting her death is evident enough of it being a less subtle form of DV.

Tania v. Joe

In the six months leading up to Maria’s life support ceasing, Tania tells the police everything. For her and Joe to ride off into the sunset, Maria had to die. Tania reveals that they were going to suffocate their victim as she left for work. Then, Joe went out and thought the things necessary for their caper.

According to Tania’s recount via Narelle Fraser’s retelling, Maria struggled. However, Tania had the upper hand because she was much bigger and stronger. Completing her attack, she thought Maria was dead. 

Tania panicked about what to do next. After dumping the car at the Shrine of Remembrance, she called Joe, questioning what she needed to do.

What’s more, Tania told her brother that she thought she had killed Maria. But, she ordered him to keep it to himself. Also, Narelle explained on the Australian True Crime podcast that Tania was very unlucky in love. Her previous husband had died before she hooked up with Joe. Also, she didn’t have a criminal past prior to Maria’s death.

Essentially, Tania’s only crime was falling in love with someone as sleazy as Joe. Moreover, she was in love with him to the point she would kill for him.

Maria’s Hunch That Her Life Was In Danger

According to Narelle’s recount, Maria was religious and visited clairvoyants who gave her [Maria] the intel that her life was potentially in danger. She also gave a friend something in case something happened to her.

Maria was not a stupid woman. Upon discovering Joe and Tania’s affair, she had intervention orders placed. She would have done anything to keep the marriage afloat. Maria became terrified of her husband. The AVO got cancelled before Tania tried to kill her.

The Fall From The Balcony – Lisa Harnum

Lisa Harnum was 30 years old when she was thrown from the balcony of her apartment by the man she loved and feared. Engaged to be married, Lisa had met Simon Gittany in 2009 after being introduced to him via another male. What started as a platonic relationship soon turned romantic after she accepted an offer to be his roommate.

According to her mother, Joan, in an article by news.com.au’s Candace Sutton, Lisa initially thought Simon was gay but learned he was not. During their time together, Gittany started becoming possessive. He would tell Lisa what she could and couldn’t wear. He even installed spyware on her mobile phone to track her movements.

Mamamia’s Jessie Stephens wrote an article in late September 2019 to coincide with her True Crime Conversations podcast episode on the Lisa Harnum case from a few weeks earlier. In her article, Stephens mentions “Simon had always been controlling and jealous.”

Gittany, who was a decade older than Lisa, had isolated her. Her mother lived in her home country of Canada, and so did her brother. Her close friends were also overseas, and she hadn’t made a close circle of friends in Australia as she was constantly moving around.

Amy Dale, who wrote the book The Fall, which is about the case, told Jessie during the True Crime Conversations podcast episode that Simon claimed during the trial that Lisa had climbed over the glass railing and had slipped or jumped to her demise. However, the forensics team found no fingerprints on the glass to back up the claim.

Lisa Is Rendered Unconscious?

There were questions raised as to how Lisa ended up over the balcony after she was pulled back through the front door with Simon’s hand over her mouth. What’s more, the camera outside the apartment door captures this moment. Conclusively, Gittany had no scratches on his person. Lisa could’ve been rendered unconscious before she was thrown over the balcony. This is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn. There is no evidence of the victim climbing over the railing.

Given Simon was a man who was solid in build, it would’ve been easy for him to render Lisa into a state of unconsciousness.

Control

The control aspect of Lisa and Simon’s relationship was what made the public realise that domestic violence isn’t just physical. It’s everything from psychological to sexual. As Amy Dale points out on the True Crime Conversations podcast, Lisa was one of those people who tried to find the positives in everyone. However, she soon came to fear her fiancé to the point she started to take silent steps into leaving him where it wouldn’t be noticeable. She moved things out of the apartment with the help of a couple of people she trusted.

She did it in such a way that Simon wasn’t going to notice. According to Amy, Lisa moved stuff to a storage garage. Lisa was also in contact with her mother to keep her informed about what was going on.

Simon’s constant need to control Lisa reveals a couple of things. The first is he was insecure. We believe that he didn’t like the idea of Lisa potentially leaving him. We don’t know his romantic history before Lisa. But, we do know that after Lisa’s death, Simon had a new girlfriend named Rachelle Louise. Sometime after he was sentenced, they broke up.

A National Wake Up

Simon Gittany’s trial was in the news for weeks. As was Lisa’s death as the inside details came out in a steady stream of information during nightly broadcasts. The narrative changed depending on what information had come out during the day.

A tragic aspect of Lisa’s death is that her mother knew that Simon did it. It’s reported that Joan noticed, according to the Cinemaholic, her daughter’s dress style changed drastically. Also, Lisa was always talking to Simon over the phone. In a normal relationship, it might seem cute with all the texting and phone calls. But if someone’s attitude towards life suddenly changes, you know something’s off.

As we mentioned earlier, Lisa’s death highlights more than one version of domestic violence. Given the subject was bought up on a public stage, it gave people a real sense of how damaging and destructive domestic violence can be.

A foundation was set up in Lisa’s memory in 2015 called the Lisa Harnum Foundation. It assists people who have been in toxic relationships.

Finally, Lisa’s death has a disturbing semblance to that of model Caroline Byrne who was allegedly thrown off The Gap in the 90s, allegedly by her boyfriend, Gordon Wood.

Allison Baden-Clay

Allison Baden-Clay had it all. Three beautiful daughters. A loving husband. A life worth living. One of these three things is false. If you chose “loving husband,” you’d be right. Allison’s husband, Gerard, was having an affair behind his wife’s back with a colleague, Toni McHugh.

According to the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation website, Allison’s life with Gerard was nothing but a sham. He made her feel worthless and isolated. From the moment of their marriage, he unleashed his narcissistic side where nothing was ever good enough for him. Gerard used all their savings in a fruitless bid to save his business which was going under. Gerard also belittled his wife’s looks.

Just looking at her in the photo above, Allison was a radiant woman and was very intelligent.

Allison’s murder sparks a striking comparison to Maria Korp regarding the unfaithful husband. However, Allison’s death was directly at her husband’s hand rather whereas Maria’s was at the hand of her husband’s lover.

While we hate drawing parallels between murder victims, it’s hard not to. There are a few other comparisons such as their husbands reporting them missing and their bodies being found decomposed. However, Maria was found barely alive. Allison was not.

Gerard was immediately a suspect with the scratches on his face, which he claimed were from shaving. What’s more, was his lack of participation in the search for Allison. He claimed at the time that his children took priority. Something tells us this was just a BS excuse.

The Known Narcissist

The Allison Baden-Clay Foundation page we linked above says that Gerard was a narcissist. Given all the evidence that has come out to support this incredibly overwhelming. He isolated his wife from everyone, and he made everything about himself. Allison even kept a record of her thoughts and feelings on her husband’s behaviour.

Gerard couldn’t help but insert his love of his heritage in every conversation he had with people. He would always mention his great-grandfather was the founder of the Scouts movement. This is a massive red flag when you introduce yourself to someone and then push that narrative. You don’t bring something like that up in a first conversation. Also, what does having a famous family member have to do with selling houses?

What The Lover Has To Say And The Reason Gerard Might’ve Murdered Allison

Toni McHugh, Gerard’s longtime mistress, did an interview with 60 Minutes after the sentencing and told Tara Brown that she didn’t believe her lover murdered Allison for her. It’s her belief he killed his wife for himself. The principal theory is that he killed Allison for her life insurance.

An article written by Emily Crane in 2014 for the Daily Mail reveals that Toni believed she was getting ready for a future with Gerard and his daughters with Allison. She said she was “madly in love” with the man who murdered his wife and thought she would spend the rest of her life. She even gave up her partner and children for him.

Gerard, who was never happy with anything, didn’t just cheat on Allison with Toni. He had several mistresses on the side. Toni was the main one.

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About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She prides herself as a truth seeker and will do (almost) anything for coffee or Coke No Sugar. Oh! And food!