A 45-year-old wealthy businessman named Michael Griffey was ki*lled. He was living in a fancy $500,000 home in Pakenham that had tennis courts, a swimming pool, and his beloved Monaro in the garage. Friends called him a “go-getter,” and people in the community remember him as a nice, popular man who gave a lot to local charities and clubs, especially those that helped kids with sports. Michael loved cricket and used to coach the Pakenham under-12 team. He would often pick up the team in one of his limousines.
Michael was living with his kids and estranged wife, but he was said to be having several affairs and helping other women financially. For example, he paid the deposit on a house in Pakenham for one woman and her mortgage or rent in Canberra.
Michael Griffey was reported missing almost a week before his body was found.
Michael was found in the garage at 9:45 p.m. on January 2, 2005, covered by a bed sheet and a tarp. He was there by his daughter and ex-wife. The fifteen-year-old daughter said she first smelled something “rotting” before she saw the blood and blankets. It hit her when she saw her dad’s sunglasses and “a bit of his thongs” “hanging out the end” next to her. The ex-wife was so upset while calling 911 that the phone had to be passed to the daughter. Police say the family at the scene was “devastated.”
When the body was examined, three fatal cuts were found on the head and one defense injury to the wrist. Someone hurt them with an unknown blunt object, and a wood splitter that was found in the house was one of the things that was taken away during the investigation. Decomposition analysis showed that the attack and ki*lling happened between 2 and 3 p.m. on December 29. The body had been hidden under the bed sheet and tarp for four days before it was found.
Only three people knew the combination to Michael’s safe, which was where his wallet and cell phone were kept. Two pages from his diary and $1,000 were also taken. There were two $1.54 million life insurance policies, and his ex-wife was the beneficiary of both of them.
Interestingly, the family had hosted a New Year’s party on the property just days prior to the discovery, with friends, family and members of the community, all seemingly unaware of the body decomposing just metres away from them.
Time to Meet the Family:
Diane Griffey: Diane met Michael in Ballarat, and the two of them began running their business, D&M Plaster Transport, together after moving to Melbourne. In the end, they went their own way and ran their Metro & Pakenham Limousine Service for a few years. Even though they broke up, they continued to live together with their three children and have a sexual relationship up until the murder. Diane knew about Michael’s mistress and rumors of other affairs, but it didn’t seem to bother her. She even called the mistress to talk about the man they both loved in a friendly way. During a recent health scare, he told Diane that she was the “only woman he truly loved,” even though they were having problems in their marriage. Friends said Michael would never say anything bad about her.
Michael had, however, told his friends that he didn’t trust his wife with their money because she had recently written a bunch of checks that didn’t clear. In the months before he died, their transportation business was having a hard time making ends meet. In 2008, it came to light that the business owed $1 million to the tax office and over $100,000 to other creditors.
Cassandra Griffey: Cassie, one of Michael’s daughters, was said to have a good relationship with her father before the murder and was called “daddy’s little girl.”
Jack Griffey: At the time of Michael’s death, Diane and Michael’s son was a race car driver.
Katrina Fitzpatrick: Katrina went by the name Michael. A month before he died, Michael gave her a necklace, told her he loved her, and started to cry. We had not seen him since. Katrina is upset that there is no proof to back up her claim that she knows who ki*lled Michael.
A woman named Gillian Gould was Michael’s mistress for five years. She knew the couple for a long time. Gillian said Michael didn’t trust his wife because of the bad checks. He felt ashamed and upset because people he knew from the bank and racing cars were calling him about the checks. This was confirmed by Michael’s friend, who said that they had talked about a $5000 check that had bounced before the New Year.
For a short time, Kenny Griffey was investigated, but he denied the accusations. Since there was no proof linking him to the son, the investigations were ended.
Diane, Michael’s ex-wife, was charged with murder in 2007. There were three important pieces of proof against her: 1) Diane told the police about the striped bed sheet that was over the body. Although Diane said she hadn’t touched the body, the tarpaulin covering it completely concealed the bed sheet. She couldn’t have known this because 1) Michael is said to have texted Diane twice on the day he was kil*led, and 2) Diane is the beneficiary of Michael’s will and will receive approximately $1.54 million from his death. The woman who slept with Michael says that a new will was made and that the two of them were planning to get married soon, but proof of this was never found.
While Diane Griffey was being tried for the first time, her daughter Cassandra admitted to k*illing the person. The trial was put on hold while the police looked into the confession. Soon after, they said the confession was not reliable because her story did not match up with important evidence in the case. Cassie was never charged with anything.
Diane said she wasn’t guilty of ki*lling her ex-husband and denied police claims that she planned to use the $1.54 million life insurance policy to help herself. In 2008, the prosecution dropped the case because there wasn’t enough proof to charge her and the case was “far from being a strong circumstantial case.”
Police said there were “several people of interest,” but no one has been charged and there haven’t been any new investigations in almost 10 years.
Theories & Speculation:
One of Michael’s friends in Melbourne said, “I’d like to know what he did to deserve that.” It looks like love or money are the only choices left in this case.
The daughter confessing to the murder is probably just a smoke screen. She might have said it to protect someone, like her mother or the k*iller if they are different people. The daughter might know important things about how her father died, but she is not a likely suspect.
It looks like this wasn’t a random attack because pages from Michael’s diary were missing and money was taken from the safe. It was probably someone close to Michael, like one of the two other people who knew the combination to that safe. If she said they were going to get married, could it have been his ex-wife and business partner or his mistress?
The wallet and money from the safe that were stolen suggest that money was the main reason for the crime, not anger or passion. Besides the money problems he and his ex-wife were having, he might have owed money to the wrong people. Diane was having a hard time with her bounced checks, so she started to daydream about the money from his life insurance.
It’s possible that the money and wallet were taken to make it look like a theft and trick the police, which means there may have been another reason. Had Michael’s affairs finally caught up with him, causing him to attack and k*ill someone? And if so, was it his estranged, jealous wife, the woman he’d been planning to marry, or one of the many other women he was said to have been seeing?
The murder weapon was never found, and no other items were reported missing from the house. This suggests that the murder was planned ahead of time, since the weapon would have had to be brought to the scene of the crime and then taken away.
Michael’s conversation with his sister less than a month before he was k*illed makes it seem like he might have known he was going to die. Could Michael have been up to no good with something other than his plastering business and gotten himself into some kind of trouble?
The last and most troubling thing is that Michael’s family still held a party for the New Year even though he was reported missing. This didn’t happen very often with Michael, and no one seems to notice when the host of a party isn’t there, which seems strange. A friend who went to the party said it was “100% relaxed” and that no one was whispering or plotting anything. At that point, there was no smell, and the family looked safe and happy. At that party, were there people who knew about the body nearby?
Thirteen years after the murder, no one has been charged and no new leads have been looked into in years. If someone talks about what happened, it looks like we’ll never know what happened. It must be very hard to carry after all this time, and we hope that the family can find peace soon.
Detective Sergeant Martin Robertson said that several people were being looked into and asked anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 1800 333 000.