In September 1994, a coroner found that gay Sydney socialite Ludwig Gertsch had been strangled by a person or persons unknown.
In a new documentary, which attempts to unravel the complex tale of the murder of Gertsch, a friend of the murdered man reveals his belief that a powerful person was behind the murder.
In The Will Of Death, which screens this weekend on Foxtel’s Crime & Investigation Network, the friend of the deceased says many people are afraid of the suspected person.
Unnamed and disguised in shadow for his TV interview, the friend says, I don’t know if I am comfortable going on record as to saying who I believe did it.
But suffice it to say, when the police did get around to interviewing me, they had already come to the same conclusion I had -“ they could prove it no more than I could.
Crime Investigation Australia series producer David Allender says breaking through the wall of silence which surrounds the case proved a challenge in making the documentary.
A lot of people know things, but were prepared to talk to us off-camera and not prepared to be identified in any way. Those people decided to do that because of fear, Allender says. They are concerned for their own safety, which adds some intrigue to the whole thing.
Because there is the possibility of recriminations, they were fearful of being identified -¦ and silenced.
The Will Of Death chronicles the 16-year-old murder case, from the earliest days of the relationship between Gertsch and millionaire gay businessman Roger Claude Teyssedre.
The documentary follows Teyssedre’s battle with AIDS-related illnesses before his sudden death on Easter Monday 1990, through to the mysterious disappearance of Gertsch six months later, on the eve of the Sleaze Ball.
Gertsch’s decomposed body was eventually found weeks later in the Blue Mountains.
Adding to the complex tale is a series of wills which involved the multi-million dollar estate of Teyssedre. The businessman, who had made his millions through gay bars and saunas, left the majority of his estate to Gertsch.
But a number of Teyssedre’s close friends and former lovers, who he had previously promised would inherit large amounts, discovered they were left either little or nothing at all in a new will created in the days before his death.
In the wake of Gertsch’s death, his solicitor Brian Roberts produced Gertsch’s will listing Gertsch’s lover Vincent Esposito as beneficiary, with Roberts as the sole executor.
In May 1996, Roberts was found to have forged Gertsch’s will and was sentenced to a four-year prison term.
In the findings of the 1994 coroner’s inquest, Gertsch had been strangled in Esposito’s Ashfield apartment. Questions were also raised over whether the murder was a contract killing.
The case was re-opened in April 2004 by the NSW Homicide Squad, with a reward of $100,000 offered for information.
Police asked for the assistance of a man, wearing a ruby earring and a gold watch, who was seen leaving the Ashfield apartment with a roll of carpet.
The case will be put under the spotlight again in October when a new inquest will be held at the Glebe Coroner’s Court.
It is highly unusual to have two inquests into an unsolved mater, Allender adds. What information they have, we are not privy to, but I imagine it will be well worth watching when it [the new inquest] comes up.
The Will Of Death screens on Crime Investigation Australia on Thursday 27 July at 7:30pm, Friday 28 July 28 at 1:30pm, Sunday 30 July at 8:30pm and Monday 31 July at 8:30am on Crime & Investigation Network.