The murder of Noosa schoolgirl Sian Kingi shocked the nation of Australia.
Sian Kingi was a beautiful innocent 12-year-old girl riding her yellow 10-speed bicycle home from school in Noosa Heads after shopping with her mother. On her way home, she encountered Barrie John Watts and Valmae Faye Beck. The couple were pretending to be looking for their poodle and asked the 12-year-old for help. Little Sian was abducted, strangled, raped, and murdered by these pieces of shit human beings.
Her body was dumped in the National Forest.
Although Sian’s story is a horrific story to tell, it is a warning to all that monsters truly do roam our earth.
The Day of the Sian’s Murder: 27th November 1987
Sian Kingi was excited about attending a school friend’s upcoming birthday party. Sian’s Mum, Lynda, agreed to meet Sian after school so that they could shop for fabric for a new dress. Lynda and Sian picked out some fabric and finished their shopping at Noosa Fair Shopping Centre at about 4.30pm before heading home. Lynda took her car, and Sian cycled on her beloved yellow bike. Their home was only one kilometer away.
“See you at home, Mum!”
Even though the two took different routes home, they were expected to arrive within minutes of each other. Sian’s route took her through a local Noosa park called Pinnaroo Park. But when Sian didn’t arrive home shortly after Lynda, Lynda presumed she had met with friends and was chatting and was just delayed. But as the day went on and there were no signs of Sian arriving home, Lynda started to worry.
Lynda started calling Sian’s friends without success.
Sian’s father, Barry Kingi arrived home from work just after 8pm and started the search for his daughter. The couple decided to retrace the steps of their daughter’s return trip home from the shopping center. They shone the headlight of their car into Pinnaroo Park and found Sian’s yellow bicycle lying in the grass.
Sian’s parents instantly knew something was terribly wrong, Sian was a good kid. They loaded Sian’s bicycle into the back of their vehicle and immediately alerted the Noosa Police to her disappearance.
The Search for Sian Kingi
Detective Sargeant Bob Atkinson knew Sian Kingi by sight. Sian played in the same netball league as his own daughter. So when Sian’s parents came into the Noosa Police Station to report her missing, he didn’t muck around. Atkinson went with Sian’s parents to Pinnaroo Park where the bike was located to search for clues but nothing else was found at the scene.
After inquiring as to whether Sian would run away, the Kingis told Atkinson their daughter would never do such a thing. She just wasn’t that sort of kid.
Noosa Police acted immediately. They called the night desk of the local newspaper, the Sunshine Coast Daily, to print a notice about Sian’s disappearance in the following day’s issue.
Sian Kingi was officially declared a missing person.
By the morning of the 28th of November, every available Police Officer on the Sunshine Coast was on the lookout for Sian. Despite widespread reporting of Sian’s disappearance, the Police had little to go on. There was a sighting of a ‘Dust covered white Holden Station Wagon’, but without any registration details, and over 10,000 white station wagons registered on the Sunshine Coast, it was almost impossible to find a suspect.
That evening, Sian’s disappearance was on all the television news channels.
Three days after Sian’s disappearance, and with no solid leads, Noosa Police called on the homicide squad from Brisbane to assist. A command center was set up in Noosa and manned around the clock. Over 700 leads came in regarding Sian’s disappearance, but the only consistent lead was the sighting of the dusty white holden station wagon with a scruffy-looking man and a heavy-set woman.
Sian’s Body is Found
Five days after Sian’s disappearance, 18-year-old fruit picker Neil Clark was walking home from his work near Castaway’s Creek in the Tinbeerway Mountain State Forest when he noticed a foul odour. He took note of the smell and decided if it was lingering the next morning, he would check it out.
The smell was still strong the next day, so Neil followed the source of the stench. There he found the body of a young girl in a blue and white striped dress. He called Noosa Police right away. Detective Sargeant Bob Atkinson took the call at the Noosa Command Centre, and together with Senior Sargeant Bob Dallow from the Brisbane Homicide Unit they investigated Neil Clark’s discovery.
Sian was found still dressed in her Sunshine Beach school uniform. Her underwear had been ‘cut’ off and was located nearby, as was her green school backpack. Sian had been stabbed 12 times including two deep wounds to her neck. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.
Five days after Sian was found, a private service was held on her family’s Sunshine Coast property. She was sent off with a traditional Maouri farewell. Detective Sargeant Bob Atkinson and members of the Brisbane Homicide Squad took time out of the murder investigation to attend Sian’s farewell and pay their respects.
Shocked residents of Noosa raised over $10,000 for a reward to find Sian’s killers and police launched a nationwide manhunt.
The Murder Investigation Escalates
The only concrete lead Police had was the sighting of a dusty White Holden Kingswood Station Wagon. Police made a statement to the media for any person who saw this vehicle in the vicinity of Pinnaroo Park, Noosa on the 27th November 1987.
A member of the public came forward with a sighting of a Holden Kingswood Station Wagon on the day of Sian’s murder. The woman, Elizabeth Young, told a story about a ‘strange encounter’ with a man who drove a white Holden Kingswood Station Wagon.
Elizabeth and her friend Bill Wallace were swimming at Castaway’s Beach, 11km south of Noosa when they noticed an unshaven man walking along the beach. The woman noticed him as he appeared to be searching for something in the sand dunes. The man was unkempt and looked homeless. Elizabeth thought she had seen the man the day before and recognized him, so she waved at him. The man just glared back at her.
Bill had previously had trouble with people breaking into his vehicle and was wary of the strange man. So he and Elizabeth got out of the water and went back to their vehicle to check. Their car was fine, but they did notice the man jump into a white holden Kingswood Station wagon and drive away.
The couple had an uneasy feeling about the man on the beach and what he might have been doing, so Bill wrote down the car registration details. The registration was LLE429. The vehicle was registered in Victoria to Valmae Faye Beck.
Noosa Police called the Victorian Police to attend to the Mooroolbark address where the vehicle was registered.
Finding Beck and Watts
Police knocked on the door at the Mooroolbark address where the white Holden Kingswood was registered. The door was answered by an elderly man called Roland Watts. Roland told Police that his son Barrie was married to Valmae Beck.
Police had their suspects. Now they just needed to find them.
Barrie Watts and Valmae Beck were wanted in Western Australia but had skipped bail and absconded to Queensland. On speaking with Western Australian Police about the couple, Noosa Police requested photographs of the two, they express-posted photographs of the pair to the Noosa CIB.
‘Today is the Day’
These words were uttered by sadistic child killer Barrie Watts to his wife, Valmae Beck that day in 1987 when they were trawling Noosa looking for a victim. They had driven north from their home in Ipswich to the sunny beaches of the Sunshine Coast, sure that young girls would be out enjoying the water and sunshine.
Valmae Faye Forte was a 41-year-old twice-divorced mother of six. She had an extensive criminal history with charges for theft, indecent behavior, obtaining money under false pretenses, forgery and vagrancy. She had served time in a Perth prison where she befriended Perth serial killer Catherine Birnie.
All of Valmae’s children had been either taken off her for neglect or were being raised by their respective fathers. Valmae was a larger, stocky lady, with a double chin and a pug-like face.
Her husband, Barrie John Watts, was 10 years younger than Beck. Watts, 31, was a petty criminal working as a doorman at a Perth Tavern when the couple met in 1983. Watts was part aboriginal and covered in tattoos. He was an orphan who had a long criminal history.
But not long after meeting, Watts was imprisoned for a break-and-enter charge and was put in jail for two and a half years. It wasn’t Watt’s first time in trouble with police. He had previously been charged with armed robbery and theft. On Watt’s release in July 1986, Valmae and Beck moved in together. They married in December 1986 and Valmae took Watt’s birth name, Beck.
The first few months of their marriage were relatively uneventful, Watts had promised Beck that he would remain on the ‘straight and narrow’ and would stay out of prison. But then he started beating Beck. Watt’s demanded that Valmae dye her hair blonde and insisted she wear a school uniform.
During this time, Watts also resumed his former criminal activities. But instead of kicking him out of their home, Beck assists her husband by becoming the ‘lookout’.
But the couple was caught and charged with stealing and other fraud offenses. When they were released on bail, the couple fled to Queensland and stayed at Beck’s sister’s home in Ipswich before renting a house at Lowood, west of Brisbane. It was during this period that Beck calls a friend in Perth telling her
‘Barry is at it again… he was going down to the school bus stop, just down the road, and was perving at the schoolgirls.”
The couple fought constantly over Watt’s fantasies about school girls. Watt told Beck that if she valued their marriage and if she loved him, she would help him get rid of his aggression by having sex with a virgin. Preferably a petite girl with fair hair. Then, he would never look at another woman in his life. Beck was terrified of losing her much-younger husband, so she agreed.
The Disappearance of Helen Mary Feeney: 29th October 1987
On the 29th of October 1987 (just one month before Sian’s abduction and murder), 31-year-old Student Teacher Helen Feeney disappeared from the car park of Carseldine College in Brisbane. Helen was a very petite woman with light-coloured hair.
Her white Holden Gemini sedan was found with its window smashed. Although Helen’s body has never been found, it is believed that Helen Feeney was killed by Barry Watts, and her body was disposed of at the Lowood rubbish tip.
Beck would later testify that Barry Watts killed Helen Feeney but no charges were laid against Watts.
More Attempted Abductions
On the 11th of November 1987, Beck and Watts attempted to kidnap an employee from Target at knifepoint in the car park of the Booval Fair Shopping Centre, Ipswich. 24-year-old retail assistant Cheryl Mortimer had left for the day and was leaving the centre carpark in her car when Beck approached Cheryl to ask for directions, Watts came up from behind Beck and threatened the woman with a knife before attempting to drag her out of her vehicle and into theirs, a White Holden Station Wagon.
The woman put up a fight and managed to escape. Watts cut his hand with his knife during the scuffle and left bloody fingerprints all over Cheryl’s vehicle.
One of Cheryl’s colleagues approached to assist in the scuffle, and the couple left in a hurry.
Cheryl immediately reported the incident to Police, including the vehicle registration number. But when Police investigated, they found the registration did not match that of a Holden Station Wagon.
Police kept the fingerprints on file and ran a notice in the local Ipswich newspaper regarding the incident. After publication two Ipswich nurses reported frightening incidents involving a white Holden Station Wagon with out-of-state plates. Both incidents occurred late at night in the car park of the local hospital when the women were leaving work.
In one incident, a man banged on the roof of the nurse’s vehicle, giving the woman a fright. She hurriedly left the scene.
The other incident involved a man asking for directions with a map. The nurse noticed ropes and bags in the back of the man’s vehicle. She was soon saved by another hospital employee who came to investigate.
Police could not find the vehicle or locate the owners. But when they read about little Sian’s abduction that involved a white Holden Kingswood Station Wagon, they picked up the phone and called the Noosa CIB.
The Hunt for the Killers
After killing Sian Kingi, Valmae Beck and Barrie Watts saw the huge media outrage on television and immediately went on the run. Valmae dyed her hair and the couple fled to Melbourne and sold the white Holden Kingswood.
Police tracked the couple to the Lowood residence, but the couple was gone. Inside the home, they found discarded used hair dye and cut hair that indicated that the pair had changed their appearance.
The case had gone cold. Temporarily.
The owner of the Lowood property contacted Police the very next day when they received a money order from the couple with an address in New South Wales. Immediately Police swarmed the address and the couple was arrested on the 14th December 1987 and charged with Sian Kingi’s murder.
During questioning, Barrie Watt refused to speak or to even confirm his identity. But Valmae Beck was more forthcoming.
Valmae Beck told Police that her husband was ‘unsatisfied’ with her. Barrie Watts was 10 years younger than his wife and had fantasies about raping a young virgin. The couple had gone looking for a girl who would fit his fantasy. They spotted Sian riding home and asked her to help them look for a lost white poodle with a pink bow. Sian was grabbed from behind and forced into the couple’s car and was bound, gagged and driven to a remote part of the Sunshine Coast.
Sian was repeatedly sexually assaulted and was then strangled and stabbed.
The Trial and Sentencing of Valmae Beck and Barrie Watts
The couple was tried separately at the Noosa Magistrates Court. Valmae Beck pleaded guilty to the abduction and the rape, but not the murder. Barrie Watts pleaded not guilty to all charges. They were both found guilty and imprisoned with no chance of parole.
In 1995, Barrie Watts was charged with the murder of Helen Mary Feeney however there was not enough evidence for a conviction.
Barrie Watts is still in prison today and is serving his sentence at the Wolston Correctional Centre. Valmae Beck died aged 64. The couple is suspected of the murders of three other young women.
Barrie Watts made the news again in 2021 when he applied for parole after 35 years in prison. This parole bid sent a new shockwave of outrage in the community. His parole was denied.
Valmae Beck Dies in Prison
Valmae Beck served part of her time in a Brisbane prison, before being moved to Townsville Correctional Centre after being continually targeted by other female inmates.
In one prison incident, Beck was clubbed with a sock that contained a jam tin that gave Beck permanent nerve damage on the side of her head.
In the later years she ‘found God’ and became highly religious.
In 2008, Beck was transferred from prison to Townsville Hospital suffering from shortness of breath. She undertook heart surgery but didn’t recover and stayed in a coma-like state for five days before passing away. She was aged 64.
In the years after Sian’s murder, Valmae Beck changed her name to Fay Crumb.
We highly recommend you listen to Casefile Case 101: Sian Kingi.