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A.K.A.: "The Kimberley Killer"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: His motive for the random killings remains a mystery
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: June 1987
Date of birth: 1960
Victims profile: Marcus Bullen and Lance Bullen (father and son) / Phillip Walkemeyer, Julie Warren, and Terry Bolt (a newly engaged couple and their friend)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Northern Territory and Western Australia, Australia
Status: Killed during a shoot-out with the police in June 1987

A German tourist holidaying in Australia, he shot dead five people (four males, one female) during a ten-day killing spree across remote Northern Territory and Western Australia, in the middle of 1987.

He died in a shoot-out with police at a desert campsite in Western Australia.


Joseph Schwab (died June 1987) was a German man who murdered five tourists in the Northern Territory and Western Australia in June 1987. Schwab was dubbed "The Kimberley Killer" by the Australian press after the region in which he committed the murders.


In June 1987, a father and son were shot dead while fishing on the Victoria River in the Northern Territory. Police were unable to determine a motive and roadblocks were set up, but the killer escaped capture.

Days later three tourists–a newly engaged couple and their friend–were shot dead at Pentecost River Crossing near Wyndham, Western Australia. A seven-member team of police officers from the Tactical Response Group and an officer from the forensic division were sent by chartered aircraft from Perth to Kununurra to assist Kimberley police with the investigation.

A helicopter pilot, Peter Leutenegger, from Napier Downs station, raised the alarm after spotting a camouflaged vehicle in bushland near Fitzroy Crossing. Because police were uncertain as to whether the vehicle belonged to the gunman they deployed an airplane to flush him out. An man armed with a semi-automatic weapon emerged from the bushes and fired at the police and the plane. Police returned fire, killing the gunman.

The killer was identified as Joseph Schwab, a 26-year-old German tourist. A security guard in his native country, his motive for the killings is unknown.


  • Marcus Bullen
  • Lance Bullen
  • Phillip Walkemeyer
  • Julie Warren
  • Terry Bolt


The crime was featured in a 2007 episode of Crime Investigation Australia entitled "The Kimberley Killer".


The Kimberley killer

The Sunday Times

March 05, 2007

Eerily reminiscent of the fictional hit film Wolf Creek, The Kimberley Killer examines the murders of five innocent tourists across the Northern Territory and Western Australia in 1987.

These horrific events were to spark one of the biggest manhunts in Australian history and end in a bloody police siege at a remote outpost in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

Hosted by Steve Liebmann, this next compelling documentary in the new series of Crime Investigation Australia includes detailed re-enactments, exclusive interviews with members of the West Australian Tactical Response team present at the shootout, as well information from police files which had been sealed for almost 20 years.

The gunman’s first victims were a father and son, who were shot dead while scouting for a fishing location on the banks of the isolated Victoria River in the Northern Territory.

The cold-blooded double murder sent shockwaves throughout the area but police investigations failed to uncover any motive for the killings.

Roadblocks were set up across the area but the killer eluded the police and escaped across the border.

Police hoped the two murders in the Northern Territory were an isolated case but just days later their worst fears were realised when three more innocent tourists were found gunned down in chillingly similar circumstances near Kununurra, in Western Australia.

By now the whole of the ‘Top End’ was on red alert. Roadblocks were set up again and police began to suspect that a serial murderer had begun a bloody rampage across the region. They were now in a race against time before the killer struck again.

Ordinary citizens were now taking extraordinary measures to arm themselves and protect their families from the murderer

A seven-man team of heavily armed police from the elite Tactical Response Group in Perth was rapidly deployed into the area. The breakthrough came when a vigilant outback helicopter pilot spotted a camouflaged vehicle in bushland near Fitzroy Crossing (in the Kimberley region), where the townsfolk were getting ready for the annual rodeo.

Police, unsure if the hidden vehicle belonged to the gunman they were looking for, approached it cautiously and decided to call on a police aircraft to fly over the site in an attempt to flush the occupant out into the open.

It was then, without warning that an armed man, naked to the waist, emerged from the bushes and began to fire at police and the police plane.

As the officers dived for cover in the low-lying scrub, the order was given to open fire on the gunman. Although wounded, the man continued to fire at police with his semi-automatic weapon.

Despite his arsenal of weapons and ammunition, the gunman was no match for the police team and when smoke from exploding grenades cleared he was found dead as the result of a fatal bullet wound to the chest.

Police later identified the gunman as a German tourist, Joseph Schwab, but to this day his motive for the random killings remains a mystery.


The recreated image of one of Joseph Schwab's killing fields



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