Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Alleged Decapitation Killer Caught in Australia

John Stenberg, audition photo.

Edward “Ned” Kelly lived in the small Australian town of Broadwater in New South Wales. Kelly was something of a hermit — an artist who loved birds. So neighbors were shocked and alarmed when Kelly’s decapitated body was discovered inside his home — a hat covering the stump where his head had been.

Police investigators quickly came up with a suspect. Jonathan Stenberg, a neighbor of Kelly’s, had an ongoing dispute with the deceased over a reserve between their properties — four years earlier, Stenberg attacked Kelly with a piece of wood.

The challenge for authorities stemmed from the skills Stenberg acquired from his previous life. A former army corporal, Stenberg had also worked private security in Iraq. He was well-schooled in combat, first-aid, and survival training. Police determined Stenberg had fled the area for the woodlands in the Darwin area, causing widespread panic in the region.

For more than 6 days, Jonathan Stenberg eluded over 100 Northern Territory policemen, hiding out in Darwin’s rural suburbs. Police received 500 calls from concerned citizens and 156 “direct tasks” — reports of suspicious persons. Finally on July 1, Stenberg was found and captured without incident. He had been living in a well-camouflaged shelter stocked with rifles, food rations, and solar panels.  Days before his capture, Stenberg auditioned for a role in the upcoming film Mystery road, a police thriller set in the Outback starring Hugo Weaving.  Stenberg was picked to be an extra, playing a police officer in the movie. Two days after scoring the role, Stenberg emailed second assistant director Mark Ingram and told him he would not be able to work on the set.

When Stenberg appeared in a Darwin courtroom for the first time, he was barefoot and unshaven. His attorney claimed Stenberg was “struggling with some serious mental health issues.”

Stenberg will be extradited to Sydney to stand trial on Thursday. His first appearance on the murder charges will take place Friday.

One gruesome piece of evidence is still missing — Kelly’s head is has yet to be found.

See also:

Man Dies in Courtroom Following Guilty Verdict

Italian Tourist Allegedly Beats Child at Disney World

Teen Convicted in Rape, Murder of 5-Year-Old Girl

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