The Unsolved Murder of Corinna Marr

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Robert and Corinna Marr married in January 1996. The couple resided on Howard Street in Collinsville, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia.

Corinna, 25, worked as a real estate sales representative with Weeks and Macklin in Firle. She also did promotional work through a local modeling agency.

On July 4, 1997, Corinna left the real estate office at 2:30 p.m. and drove home to prepare for a publicity event at the Woodville Hotel, about six miles from her home.

A neighbor walking past the Marr home around 3:15 p.m. heard the sound of a hair dryer and noticed the front door was open, but the screen door closed.

Robert Marr arrived home around 4 p.m. and found Corinna dead on their bed.

An autopsy revealed Corinna was shot twice at close range — once to her left breast area and another to the left side of her head. The killer possibly used a .22 caliber pistol.

Corinna’s real estate boss, Colin Todd, told the police that she was unhappy in her marriage, had numerous affairs, and planned to leave her husband.

One of the men Corinna allegedly had an affair with was photographer Derick Sands. At the time of her murder, Sands worked for Messenger Newspapers, a subsidiary of News Limited. Police named him a suspect in her murder in 2004.

Sands had photographed Corinna for publicity events as part of her job for Weeks & Macklin. Detectives interrogated him for the first time in 2002 and named him a suspect in her murder in 2004.

Sands denied both the affair and killing Corinna. He later filed defamation lawsuits against Channel Seven and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in 2004 and the state of South Australia in 2012.

In January 2004, Channel Seven received a tip that accused former Liberal Party politician Trish Draper of taking Sands, her boyfriend, on a $10,000 taxpayer-funded study tour to several European countries by saying he was her spouse.

The studio aired a promo on Today Tonight in May 2004 about Draper and referred to Sands as a suspect in a murder case.

Sands filed a defamation lawsuit against Channel Seven and ABC that lasted five years. He claimed the false murder allegations against him tarnished his professional reputation and ruined his life.

During a July 2009 broadcast, Channel Seven’s Graham Archer stated that the lawsuit forced the studio to perform an investigation of Corinna’s murder and claimed all evidence led to Sands being the only possible suspect.

Archer pointed out that Sands lied several times to the police and could not account for his whereabouts at the time of Corinna’s murder. Sands said he was in a photography darkroom on July 4, 1997, but his coworkers disputed his alibi. However, it seems odd that Sands would lie, knowing his fellow employees could not back up his account.

Sands lost the defamation suit against Channel Seven and ABC. The judge concluded that Sands had lied to the police about his whereabouts on the day of Corinna’s murder; the evidence constituted “reasonable grounds on which the plaintiff, as of May 2004, could properly have been suspected of the murder of Corinna Marr.”

The judge further said, “In all the circumstances, I cannot accept the plaintiff as a witness of truth.” However, the judge made it clear that ruling in favor of the media organizations should not be interpreted as a finding that Sands murdered Corinna, Crikey.com.au reported.

During court proceedings for Sands’s defamation lawsuit against the state of South Australia in 2012, Sands’s lawyer Paul Heywood-Smith, QC, attempted to show a botched murder investigation dangling on the edge of a cover-up.

He told the court that Detective Senior Sergeant John Keane said in 2004 that police would not charge his client with Corinna’s murder due to lack of evidence. Police found nothing proving Sands had ever been in the Marr home. Furthermore, a check of Sands’s phone records showed no calls placed to or from Corinna in the weeks leading up to her murder.

Heywood-Smith claimed Corinna had an affair with a different photographer who drove a dark-colored Mercedes. That photographer allegedly took explicit photographs of Corinna. The identity of the man is unknown. The police had mistaken Sands for the mystery photographer, Heywood-Smith argued.

Sands’s attorney also told the court that the police refused to hand over witness statements, Corinna’s diary, and telephone intercepts.

Heywood-Smith said only Corinna’s husband had reason to kill her and accused Marr of hiring one of his biker friends to murder his wife. Robert was allegedly a Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club member, according to a witness known only as “Mr. X.”

Per PerthNow.com.au, “Detective Chief Inspector Anthony Crameri, who spearheaded a Major Crime team investigating the murder, confirmed the claims made by Mr. X were passed on during an interview with Ms. Marr’s boss, real estate agent Colin Todd, on July 22, 1998.”

However, investigators never questioned Mr. X directly.

Crameri said he investigated the claims about Marr’s involvement in the motorcycle club but found no evidence that he was a member. Conveniently, Crameri could not “accurately recall” whether Marr had a criminal record.

Corinna Marr: photo of husband Robert Marr
Robert Marr (Photo credit: News.com.au)

Heywood-Smith also said that statements from Corinna’s family and friends confirmed she was unhappy in her marriage and had numerous sexual relationships with other men. Furthermore, friends and neighbors had witnessed violent fights between Corinna and her husband.

However, Corinna’s best friend, Paula Petrunic, testified to the contrary, saying she recalled the couple being happy and that Corinna would have told her if Marr was violent. 

“We spent a lot of time together and we shared a lot of personal information with each other,” Petrunic said.

Petrunic also stated that Corinna might have had affairs without telling her and that she had never heard of Sands until after Corinna’s murder.

[Her statement makes no sense considering if she and Corinna were best friends and confided in each other, it stands to reason Corinna would have told her about Sands and other affairs.]

Detective Keane testified that he questioned Marr hours after Corinna’s murder. 

Marr said he had arrived home at about 3.50 p.m. on July 4, 1997, and had not noticed his wife’s body in the bedroom until after he retrieved the mail from the outside mailbox and made two phone calls. He claimed the bedroom was dark when he entered.

Justice Kelly: “Why did you so quickly discount the possibility that this was not just a man setting up a false trail?”

Keane: “It was just unusual the way he said he found his wife, how he walked into the bedroom and didn’t see her and went about the house and went outside and came back in again and made the phone calls.

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Keane found Robert’s account of how he found Corinna’s body “so strange it had to be true.” 

Marr’s “efforts to resuscitate Corinna while he was on the phone to paramedics further indicated he was not involved,” Keane said.

[Keane’s statements make me question how he ever became a detective.]

Reports say that Marr’s bedroom was small. Pair that with the fact it was daylight, makes it unlikely Marr would have missed seeing his wife’s dead body when he entered the room.

Keane testified that witnesses verified Marr’s movements on the afternoon of Corinna’s murder, but one witness contradicted Keane’s statement.

Shortly after Corrina’s murder, a neighbor called the local Crimestoppers after seeing a news report showing Marr’s picture. She said she saw two men parked in an orange or red vehicle in front of her house on the day of Corinna’s murder. The men sat there for more than an hour before leaving at around 3.40 p.m. She identified one of them as Robert Marr.

Keane quickly informed the woman that she was mistaken because Marr was working at the time of the sighting, and investigators ruled him out as a suspect. 

“She rang up recently with information through Crime Stoppers and we spoke to her to assure her that her information is not correct,” Keane said in court.

Heywood-Smith told the court that Marr’s father was a police chaplain and police never asked Marr for an alibi. He fought hard to shift the focus from Sands to Marr during the proceedings. However, Sands ultimately lost the defamation lawsuit in 2013.

Interestingly, police never charged him in Corinna’s murder, and there has been no activity in the investigation. Investigators said they planned to once again name him as a suspect, but it is unclear if they did.

About five months after Corinna’s murder, Marr fled the area to work for Cirque du Soleil. Corinna’s murder has never been officially solved. 

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

I don’t believe Sands had anything to do with Corinna’s killing. So he lied to the police, allegedly. That doesn’t mean he killed Corinna; he might have been hiding other things. I’m with Heywood-Smith on this one; I believe Marr killed her or hired someone to do it for him.

I believe the neighbor did see Marr sitting in the orange or red vehicle with another man right before Corinna’s murder. Marr knew his wife had planned to leave work at 2:30 p.m. The neighbor was adamant Marr was one of the men.

Corinna had about an 11-minute drive from Firle to her home. She would have arrived by 2:45 p.m. if she had gone straight from the office to home. 

When she got home, she likely took a bath or shower. A neighbor heard a hair dryer running at 3:15 p.m. Sometime between 3:15 and 3:40, someone shot Corinna. The men left in the car together at 3:40, and Marr returned home at 3:50. Coincidence?

Keane was super quick to discount the neighbor’s testimony. I have no idea where Marr worked, but it is possible someone there lied to provide his alibi, OR the police downright lied.

No other suspect makes sense because their marriage was shit and Marr knew when Corinna would be home that day. She allegedly had affairs, and he likely knew about them. According to neighbors and some of their friends, there were also violent fights between the two. What did they argue over?

If there were violent fights, you’d think Corinna would never have bothered with affairs out of fear.

Corinna’s boss, Colin Todd, said in 2012 that he believed in Sands’s innocence and that the police should have further investigated Marr. Todd said Keane rejected his theory during a police interview at Todd’s home that he secretly recorded.

Howard Street appears to be strictly residential. So the killer KNEW where Corinna lived AND that she would be home from work early.

One thing that stands out to me is that Corinna was not sexually assaulted. If a stranger had killed her, that likely would have been the motive. No money or items were missing from the home, as far as I can tell, which also rules out a robbery. She was definitely the intended target.

Another is that she was shot once in the left breast area, suggesting even more that the killing was personal. If the killer wanted her dead, why not just shoot her once in the head? Why the breast, too?

The shot to the breast area tells me that Corinna’s killer had confronted her before firing the gun and was standing in front of her when they shot her. I feel like this could have been to torment her, force her to talk, or just to be an asshole.

And Paula Petrunic, well, I don’t believe her testimony. If she and Corinna were best friends, Corinna would have told her about the affairs and, most definitely, any abuse. So, I think Petrunic lied, maybe out of fear, I don’t know. The neighbors heard violent fights, so we know the marriage was not happy.

Someone on Facebook posted that Corinna’s best friend is a “sergeant in the police.” I do not know if this person is talking about Petrunic, but if so, then it makes sense why she might have lied in court.

Did the police set out to frame Sands because Marr’s daddy worked for them as a chaplain? Maybe.

Keane might have been part of a possible cover-up. His statements about why he thought Marr was innocent were bizarre and not what I would expect a seasoned detective to say. I would expect him to do his job and INVESTIGATE, not base a murder investigation on instinct alone.

I also find it interesting that Marr fled the area months after Corinna’s death. Nothing says guilty more than escaping.

And a circus, no less. 🤣 🤣 🤣 You can’t make this shit up. 

Marr is 53 now and still lives in South Australia. As far as the motorcycle club goes, I know they would protect him if he were a member. I also know they would kill someone for a fellow member. I don’t necessarily believe he was or is a member.

However, he visited the Gypsy Jokers clubhouse with a longtime friend on at least one occasion before Corinna’s murder. That friend might be a member; it’s unclear but likely. I mean, why were they there? I highly doubt you can just walk right in as a non-member. At the very least, the friend appears to be a “motorcycle enthusiast.” 😂 And so are a few of his friends. 😉 Maybe he was the one in the orange or red car.

Do you know what else is interesting? I found Petrunic on FB, and guess who is on her friend list? Yep, Robert Marr. I found him first and then punched in her name in a Facebook search. They both keep their friends lists private, but he “liked” one of her public photos. Unbelievable. I wonder if she had anything to do with Corinna’s murder. Clearly, Corinna was more beautiful than Petrunic. Maybe Petrunic was jealous.

Corinna Marr: a 2016 photo of husband Robert Marr
Robert Marr in 2016 (Facebook)

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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