The headless remains of Ned Kelly, Australia's most famous outlaw, have been identified, officials said Thursday, 131 years after the folk hero was hanged for murder and his body buried in the yard of a Melbourne prison.
Scientists used DNA to identify the bushranger’s body, but the whereabouts of Kelly’s skull — which has been stolen at least twice — remain unknown.
In 1911, the Washington Post wrote about about the suave Ned Kelly and his gang of criminals, whose exploits included bank robberies, police murders, and a Robin Hood-like championing of the Irish rural underclass. Read the 1911 story below:
WORLD-FAMOUS POLICE MYSTERIES
Thrilling campaign of crime carried out on by the famous Kelly Bushrangers, of Australia, who showed daring and warlike genius in their startling murders and robberies
By W.G. Chapman.
The story of the Kelly family reads like a romance — better than a romance, for one at least of the popular novels of Australian bush life has been founded upon it. The Kelly gang was the last of those outlawed companies that had their home in the back country of New South Wales and Victoria in earlier days, and between 1870 and 1879 their exploits terrorized those two Australian colonies and rivaled the achievements of the James boys.
It was the northeastern triangle of New South Wales that came to be known as Kelly country, a district people largely by Irish settlers, many of whom actively sympathized with the cattle marauders, as the Kellys were before they flew at greater game. Theirs was a difficult country, and they knew it by heart, and though their hiding place was more or less determinable, their intimate knowledge of every pass, ravine, and gully rendered their capture impossible.
When the whole colony began to be stirred by the constant cattle thefts, the authorities resolved to make a determined effort to arrest the marauders. At this point, and disregarding the earlier activities of the clan, we may begin to record the Kellys’ activities.
Chapman goes on to describe the many members of the Kelly family and their exploits, before finally coming to the most notorious member — Ned, who is in the middle of a bank robbery:
Ned stepped in, closed the door after him, and a moment later presented the revolver to the clerk’s head with the injunction to “bail up.” At the same instant, Steve Hart ran in at the back door, and in a moment all the firearms in the bank were secured.
Mr. Scott, the bank manager, was in the office adjoining the bank. Ned Kelly entered, covered him with his revolver, and said in a mild tone:
“I am Ned Kelly. Bail up!”
Mr. Scott “bailed up,” and, leaving Steve Hart in charge of him, Ned Kelly began to search the bank... As Ned was about to enter the private apartments, in which Mrs. Scott and her family resided Mr. Scott threatened to strike him, but Kelly only passed him politely and, bowing to Mrs. Scott, announced his name and said that he had no intention of molesting any person present. Mrs. Scott was so little alarmed at her visitor that she paid him the compliment of saying that the bad reports she had heard concerning his personal appearance were greatly exaggerated. Ned returned the compliment with a few expressions of conventional courtesy and continued:
“As I wish to enjoy the pleasure of your company, together with that of your family, I am going to invite you to take a drive with me.”
Read the rest of the story here.