WO years ago yesterday, clean-cut family man and multi-millionaire Herman Rockefeller vanished. His remains were found later in a Glenroy back yard. He was killed when he visited the Hadfield home of Bernadette Denny and Mario Schembri for a sexual tryst. Schembri and Denny are now in jail, but the case lives on for its revelations about sordid sex with strangers, the swingers scene and Mr Rockefeller’s double life. A new book revisits the crime.
ON Monday afternoon, while the homicide police are driving towards the Prius left in a country lane, Vicky Rockefeller receives a call at home that she probably wishes she hadn’t answered. A woman she doesn’t know has rung and wants to speak to her.
Liza Honeywell (name has been changed) is a 52-year-old interior designer and mother who has been married to the same man since she was 29.
Before she was married in 1986, she was in a relationship with Herman Rockefeller. The couple had met in late 1982 at a party in Toorak. At that time, Liza was a 25-year-old student at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology where she was finishing her interior design degree.
Herman was the same age as Liza and told her that he had just returned from completing a law degree at Harvard University.
The couple started a relationship that night. It lasted for three years, or on and off for 27 years, depending on which definition of relationship is employed.
Liza was at home in the affluent Melbourne seaside suburb of Brighton when her husband rang her, urging her to turn on the television and find a news broadcast. She did and was confronted by a photograph of Herman Rockefeller and the image of his wife and brother conducting a police media conference.
She learnt that Rockefeller had been missing since the Thursday before.
Liza’s husband asks her if she wants to go to the police, and she replies that she will have to call Herman’s wife first. The situation is delicate, but his disappearance overrides any sensitivity she otherwise may have hidden behind.
Liza tells Vicky Rockefeller that she has kept in touch with Herman and received a call from him the night he went missing.
Vicky asks her caller if she was “the person who went to Hong Kong with him”. Liza replies that she was and asks Vicky if she “knew of the other phone that Herman had”. Vicky knows nothing about any other phone so she takes the number from Liza.
The phone number and Liza’s details are quickly passed on to the investigating police. There will be plenty of time later, after Herman is found, to process the fact that he has been seeing another woman.
Detectives Woltsche and Wiseman drive from the homicide offices to meet Liza in Brighton. Her husband has come home from work early to support his wife. …