ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Pyjama Girl Murder Mystery

Updated on June 4, 2013

A Body on the Road

Every now and then an intriguing crime captivates public imagination, so that it is never completely forgotten, no matter how much time goes by. The Pyjama Girl mystery is one such case - an unsolved murder that stretches back over 70 years, to 1934.

On the first day of Spring of that year, a young woman's body was found beside a lonely road in Albury, a country border town between NSW and Victoria, Australia. The body was not visible to any passing traffic as it was lying under a culvert. A man named Tom Griffith had discovered it purely by chance as he was leading his prize bull along the side of the road. Stopping for a cigarette, he saw, in his own words, 'a peculiar looking bundle' and went to investigate.

The woman had been bashed, shot and partially burnt, making identification difficult. She was small, beautiful, blue-eyed and in her 20's but that's all there was to identify her, apart from her green silk pyjamas. Her body had been shoved face first into a hessian bag and set alight. The bullet had penetrated just under her right eye but later the coroner would determine that the real cause of death had been eight vicious blows to her face.

Police reconstruction of the face of the Pyjama Girl
Police reconstruction of the face of the Pyjama Girl

Exotic Pyjamas

In the 1930s pyjamas were not commonly worn by women - they were considered strange and risque and generally only worn by partying 'flappers' who smoked, drank and wore revealing outfits - at least, that was the public impression. As a result the Pyjama Girl was held up as an example of what can happen to worldly women whose chief concern is to enjoy themselves.

This, together with the brutality of the murder and the ongoing mystery of the woman's identity ensured high press coverage and theories and speculations saturated the papers. Missing peoples files were checked and re-checked, artist's impressions were published in every newspaper and police made masks, photographed them and circulated the images. No result. A worldwide search was launched but, as was reported in the newsreels of the day....." back from the great cities and tiny outposts of the world came the reply, "no untraced woman answering to your description is missing from this country." Frustrated and no closer to solving the Pyjama Girl's mysterious identity, the police took the extraordinary and unprecedented step of preserving her body in a formalin bath - and there she remained for ten long years.

Public Viewing

The public were invited to view the body in the hope that someone would recognize the murdered girl. Hundreds passed through, though many came out wishing they hadn't - from all reports it was a disturbing sight. Due to the widespread press coverage and subsequent public interest, there was a constant pressure on the police comissioner to solve the crime. The commissioner, Bill Mackay, became obsessed with case - the police now had a short list of missing girls and a young woman called Linda Agostini was at the top of that list.

Agostini was an English woman who had worked as a hairdresser aboard a cruise ship, before marrying an Italian, Antonio Agostini, who, when questioned by police claimed his wife had deserted him. The police were unconviced by Agostini's story but the physical description of Linda did not correspond with the Pyjama Girl. For a start, the dental records didn't match, Linda had brown eyes not blue and her breasts were full, not small and round like the Pyjama Girl's.Thus she was eventually crossed off the list. The police were back where they started, with an unsolved crime.

Linda Agostini. Mistaken identity?
Linda Agostini. Mistaken identity?

Ten Years On

By an extraordinary coincidence, Bill Mckay used to frequent an elite Sydney restaurant, Romano's, where Antonio Agnostini happened to work as a waiter. In a scene that would stretch the credulity of any crime fiction fan, Mackay claimed that one evening in the restaurant he noticed Agostini looking particularly unhappy and inquired as to why. In response Agostini broke down and confessed that he was now a miserable widower because he had killed his wife Linda ten years before. The police commissioner was elated and announced to the world that he had solved the Pyjama Girl mystery. It was all so pat, neat and remarkably simple - how extraordinary that ten years after the event, the crime should be solved in this fashion.

Mackay's pronouncement was accepted and the case was filed. Yet there were many aspects that just didn't quite add up. There were the dental records, which at the time of the murder had been compared to Linda Agostini's and declared a mismatch. Agostini had had porcelain fillings that three dental experts had failed to find on the corpse, yet when Mackay ordered dental expert Professor Everett Magnus to re-examine the corpe's teeth ten years later, they miraculously appeared.

Then there was the question of the Pyjama Girls eyes, which were blue. Linda's were brown. At the coronial inquiry, police calleld two expert witneses who testified that the eyes must have turned brown after death - a phenomenum that is, according to most forensic scientists, extremely unlikely - yet it was accepted by the coroner.

There were other anomalies too. According to his confession, Antonio Agnostini claimed he had shot his wife by accident when she was threatening him with a gun and then put her in a bag and drove to the country. He then claimed to have poured petrol over his wife's body and used up the remainder in the can to drive back to Melbourne. However, Sergeant Kelly who was among those on the scene when the body was found, had reported smelling a strong odour of kerosine, not petrol. Just prior to the coronial inquiry he changed this report to 'I smelt kerosine or petrol'. In addition, Agostini made no mention in his confession of the blows inflicted on the Pyjama Girl. Later he came up with a far-fetched story about her having fallen down the stairs, which was not consistent with the forensic evidence

An Alternative Theory

Historian Richard Evans, who has studied all the original police records and court documents believes the Pyjama Girl was not Linda Agostini. Was Mackay so desperate to solve the case he fudged evidence and made a deal with Agostini? Evans believes so. Agostini did kill his wife but she was not the Pyjama Girl.It seems likely Mackay threatened to send Agostini to the gallows for the murder of his real wife if he didn't play ball. If he confessed to the Albury murder he would only be charged with manslaughter but if he did not, he would face execution. Later, after his conviction, Agostini claimed he did not murder the girl whose body was uncovered in Albury, although he never denied he had killed his real wife. What happened to her is still a mystery. After serving three years of a six year term for manslaughter he was deported to Italy.

When the Pyjama Girl's body was finally laid to rest, ten years after her murder, Agostini refused to pay for the funeral because, as he said at the time... "she was not my wife".

So Who was the Pyjama Girl?

If not Linda Agostini, who was the real Pyjama Girl? Why didn't anyone ever come forward to identify her? Why would a beautiful, sexy young woman lay unclaimed for so very long? Who was really responsible for her murder?

These questions remain unanswered and until they are, the image of the Pyjama Girl will continue to haunt.


 Australia Through Time

Evans, Richard The Pyjama Girl Mystery: a true story of murder, obsession and lies


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)