Society Murders

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Melbourne Society Murders
Date4 April 2002 (2002-04-04)
LocationMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
CauseDeath by strangulation
  • Margaret Mary Wales-King
  • Paul Aloysius King
  1. Matthew Wales
  2. Maritza Wales
  1. 30 years' imprisonment with a non-parole period of 24 years
  2. Two-year suspended sentence

The Society Murders is the name given to the 4 April 2002 familicide of husband and wife millionaire socialites Margaret Mary Wales-King, 69, and husband, Paul Aloysius King, 75, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, by Margaret's 34-year-old son, Matthew Wales. News media throughout Australia covered the crime and subsequent trial, which later became the subject of a book and a television film.[1][2]

Double murder[edit]

On 4 April 2002, the victims, Margaret Wales-King and her husband Paul King attended the Glen Iris home of Margaret's son Matthew Wales and daughter-in-law Maritza Wales for a family dinner engagement. On the evening of the same day, Matthew killed the couple by striking them to the back of the neck after drugging their soup to make them drowsy.[dead link][3] Autopsies also indicated that the couple had been strangled;[2] the couple were initially reported missing and on 10 April, their vehicle was found abandoned in Middle Park.[4] On 29 April, the couple's bodies were discovered buried in bushland near Marysville, Victoria.[4]

Confession and arrest[edit]

On 11 May, after confessing to police, Matthew Wales was charged with the murder of his mother and stepfather,[5] his wife, Maritza, was charged with being an accessory after the fact to both the alleged murders.[4] Wales had participated at the couple's funeral just three days earlier and was photographed weeping and embracing his elder brother.[4]

Guilty plea and sentencing[edit]

Matthew Wales pleaded guilty and was convicted of the murder of both Margaret Wales-King and Paul King,[6] he was sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment with a non-parole period of 24 years.[7] The trial judge found Wales murdered the couple because he resented his mother for using her wealth to manipulate him,[7] his wife pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and received a two-year suspended sentence.[6][8] She was found not to have played any part in the actual murders.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2003, Melbourne barrister Hilary Bonney wrote a book about the murder, The Society Murders: The True Story of the Wales-King Murders;[1][9] the book was written without co-operation from the Wales-King family and was based largely on court evidence and police documents.[1]

The book was later adapted as a television film, Society Murders for Network Ten, written by Greg Haddrick and Kylie Needham for the production company Screentime; the film starred Georgie Parker, Alex Dimitriades, Matthew Le Nevez, Terry Norris and Julia Blake.[1]

The story was also examined on the episode "The Enemy Within" of the series Behind Mansion Walls presented on Investigation Discovery.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Miller, Kylie (22 July 2005). "TV treatment for society murders". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b Munro, Ian; Gregory, Peter (12 April 2003). "Case closed - but not for an angry family". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  3. ^ Rule, Greg (31 December 2002). "When a young man's mind turns to murder". AAP. Retrieved 13 February 2010.[dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d Cox, Kate; Dasey, Daniel (12 May 2002). "Son charged with Wales-King murders". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  5. ^ "Wales in court on parental murder charges". Sydney Morning Herald. 14 May 2002. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b Milovanovic, Selma (18 October 2002). "Wales pleads guilty over murders". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b c "Son sentenced to 30 years jail for double murder". ABC News. 11 April 2003. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  8. ^ Medew, Julia (20 February 2007). "Society murderer's wife guilty". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  9. ^ Bonney, Hilary (2003). The Society Murders: The True Story of the Wales-King Murders. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781741141207.