Decades-old cold case murder of trans sex worker could be linked to serial killer

Adele Bailey

A lead has been revealed in the decades-old cold case of trans woman Adele Bailey found dead at the bottom of a mineshaft, with detectives reportedly ignoring the tip-off at the time.

Bailey, a trans woman and sex worker living near Melbourne, Australia, went missing in 1978. In 1995, 17 years later, her body was discovered by two men exploring the “Jack of Clubs” mineshaft in the tiny Victoria town of Bonnie Doone.

According to Daily Mail Australia, during the initial investigation into her death – named Operation Kale – police identified a police officer named Denis Tanner as the prime suspect.

Tanner – who lived near the mineshaft and whose sister-in-law had previously been found dead at the site under suspicious circumstances – had arrested Bailey during a crackdown on sex work in the area prior to her disappearance.

However, there was never enough evidence to charge Tanner, and no one has ever been arrested or convicted in relation to Bailey’s death.

Adele Bailey’s death could have been linked to serial killer Bandali Debs

Now, The Herald Sun has unearthed police “information reports” which show officers were given a tip-off linking Adele Bailey’s death to serial killer Bandali Debs.

In 1995, after her body was discovered, Bailey’s friend spoke to police on two consecutive days tipping them off to a possible connection with Debs.

At the time he had not been arrested but Debs, now 68, would go on to be sentenced in 2003 to four consecutive life sentences plus 27 years without parole for the murder of two sex workers and two police officers in the 1990s.

The friend said both she and Bailey had known a man named “Joe”, who she later identified as Debs.

When interviewed by police, she alleged she had been raped by Debs, that she had once seen him shoot someone in the head, and also that Debs and Bailey had had a sexual relationship.

The Herald Sun reported the friend told detectives: “I think she had a physical relationship with Joe because of the way they acted together, but I don’t know for sure.”

According to the publication’s investigation, the tip-off was dismissed.

A spokesperson for Victoria Police told PinkNews: “The investigation into the death of Adele Bailey remains open.

“Detectives from the homicide squad cold case team will examine all new information received thoroughly as part of the ongoing investigation.

“Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at