The Unusual Australian Shark Arm Murders

The Unusual Australian Shark Arm Murders


this week on BuzzFeed unsolved we’d go down under to examine the wacky shark arm case that captivated Australia in 1935 did you say wacky I mean just it it’s pretty wacky well I’m Harun Lee any case that’s titled the shark arm case there’s gonna be some fun to be had down the road yeah because I’m no marine biologist but sharks don’t have arms they have fins yeah an astute observation so why is the arm in the title curious curious when we dive deep in figuring it in early 1935 business at Sydney Australia’s coogee aquarium in swimming bass was floundering the world was in the depths of the great depression an aquarium owner Bert Hobson needed something to lure customers and keep his business afloat there’s two already to see based puns in what he’s talking about I don’t know what you’re talking about this is gonna be a running theme I swear it’s the last one okay his spirits were buoyed went on April 18 Bert and his son Ron caught a 14-foot one-ton tiger shark off the coast and put it in their pool there had been an increasing wave of shark attacks and this monstrous shark was just the attraction Hobson thought needed to turn the tide on his slumping enterprise about a week after catching the shark and in front of crowds of families enjoying the aquarium during a holiday weekend the behemoth suddenly began convulsing and vomiting spitting up a rat a bird and finally a human arm it’s a Great Depression yeah you’ve scrapped together what little you have like the family to the water parks for the holidays for some great memories as a family shark just starts vomiting rats in front of your children I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shark vomit do you imagine like a shark like just slumped over like a toilet is a very funny image obviously this was just in the pool now we’ll also want to know if it like the velocity of the arm coming out did it shoot out into the crowd it hit somebody in the face or was it just like a dribble down like over its lips or just like you know like when you’re eating and you like kind of do a half burp but a little bit comes up oh yeah yeah yeah like a Chipotle burger yeah whose little arm came out too much salsa Hobson called the police who fished the arm out of the pool and found a large tattoo of two boxers fighting inside the forearm the shark was killed and its stomach was searched for additional remains but none were found boy last thing I would want after vomiting is to be killed yeah I mean really just a bad week for that shark the Sharks just got it like his last thought had to have been like using new fingerprinting technology the police were able to identify the arms original operator as 45 year-old Jimmy Smith a local paper truth described Smith as quote a well known suburban billiard saloon keeper one time promising lightweight boxer and a man with seemingly not an enemy in the world end quote seemingly is the operative word here yeah I think so I don’t get your arms cut off and fed to a shark if you’re simpatico with all your pals yeah I can’t say there’s a lot of good relationships in your life this is something that’s happening to you in the early 1930s Smith began working as a builder for one Reginald Holmes a well-respected member of the community on the surface but who hid under currents of criminal activity in addition to operating a successful boat building business Holmes conducted insurance scams and organized drug deals using his speedboats to collect drugs from ships after the first building job Smith plunged into more work for homes and became netted in his various illicit schemes on Holmes’s orders Smith would scam builders out of their supplies operate Holmes’s speedboats and was the caretaker of a pleasure boat called the Pathfinder more on that later I love this guy which guy Holmes Holmes why it’s 1935 he’s got us a fleet of okay I do think the feed but a fleet of speedboats is something that a Bond villain would have and I kind of appreciate that this guy is taking it to heart that’s kind of cool I’m sure by that era standards a speedboat is a boat that goes 11 miles an hour yeah probably not that fast but we’re not mapping you know real like relativity yeah and in my brain I’m imagining Miami Vice but with just more burlap braids the time it was a bitchin boat a bit devilish of you to drop the term pleasure boat and say well we’ll get back to that yeah that’s that hook you in there cliffhanger because the mind reels tell your mind to settle down it can’t oh there’s no settling this one down now pleasure boat my word Smith in homes also worked with an old chum of Smith’s Patrick Brady Brady began his life of crime in World War one when he realized that he was good at forging the signatures of military generals the three men began forging checks for small amounts of money from well-off clients of homes eventually Holmes and Smith had a disagreement over one of the check forgery scams and it’s reported that Smith began blackmailing Holmes hey I love this whole crew I love that these men become friends over the fact that they’re he’s like hey you know what you’re really good at forging signatures well thank you it’s something I’ve been practicing for a while I love your fleet of speedboats these guys are scammers yeah but how do you just crack that eye how do you break the ice there oh because it’s not just like out to coffee one day you sound a little wild but everything about murder here murdering them a person you are how do you feel about scams yeah I mean any sort of illicit thing is there’s no LinkedIn for criminals where they could read the resumes of other criminals and and hire them so like how do they find each other I suppose like good app idea they’re like yeah LinkedIn for crimping right that fishy write that down we write that down under our schemes see put a little circle around oh yeah fast forward to April 7th 11 days before Bert Hobson caught his tiger shark Jimmy Smith and Patrick Brady were out drinking and playing cards at the Cecil Hotel afterwards the two went to a small cottage that Brady had in the beach community of criminal it’s widely thought that this was where Smith met his fate a cab driver reported driving a disheveled Brady from the cottage to Holmes’s house later that night the driver would later testify quote it was clear that he was frightened end quote and that Brady was obviously hiding something in his jacket you know I can’t think of many other things that would be as awkward to hide under a jacket than a full grown arm well no you just what you would do is you would tuck one of your arms behind and just go in and put the arm in the sleeve itself yeah what if he’s like nice to meet you man and it’s like the law yeah like it fits how are you Smith’s wife who Smith had told he was going fishing grew nervous when he didn’t return after a few nights one night a man called her and said quote don’t worry Jimmy we’ll be home in three days time end quote of course Jimmy Smith never returned days later the shark at the coachee Aquarium vomited his arm on May 17th Brady was arrested on forgery charges which were merely a way to keep him in custody authorities interrogated him for six hours but he refused to admit anything it was only after the police questioned his wife that Brady agreed to make a statement Brady implicated Holmes in Smith’s murder and when police questioned Holmes he claimed to not know Brady a few days later Holmes took a speedboat out in Sydney Harbor along with a bottle of alcohol and a pistol the facts of the following trip are described in various ways but with a grain of salt the gist of it goes like this Holmes got drunk on the boat and shot himself in the head with the pistol another man who was out boating with his children reported almost being hit by the erratically moving boat when talking to police the man said quote you won’t mistake him he has a bullet hole in his forehead end quote for you see Holmes survived the gunshot which knocked him into the water now with a gunshot wound in his head Holmes climbed back into his boat and tried to drive back to Sydney Harbor police boats chased him for four hours until they eventually caught him Holmes reportedly told police that he had been shot by strangers and was trying to escape he apparently claimed he thought the police in pursuit were the people who shot him which is why he didn’t stop it’s hard to know what Holmes was really thinking because again he had a bullet hole in his head this guy apparently felt well enough to go on a four hour boat chase yeah I mean was he seemed to be doing fine like you I would think maybe it would really mess you up and like you’d live but you know you’re clean to life but this guy is like looking back the winds whizzing through the hole and blood out of his little it’s crazy Holmes allegedly said to police quote Jimmy Smith is dead and there is only another left if you leave me until tonight I will finish him unquote Holmes claimed that instead of Grady story accusing him of being the organizer of the plan to kill Smith he had actually been extorted by Brady Brady had surfaced at Holmes’s house with Smith severed arm and attempted to blackmail him claiming he’d pin the murder on Holmes’s instructions Holmes said that Brady had murdered Smith cut his body up put the pieces in a trunk and through the trunk into gonna Mata Bay in the 20s and 30s this act was apparently so common that it had a name the Sydney send-off took a luckily given you know Holmes told police he paid Brady the blackmail money who in turn left the severed arm in Holmes’s living room Holmes claimed he’d been panicked and threw the arm into the ocean where it was presumably eaten if by the shark that was eventually caught and placed in the aquarium police said they would charge Holmes with being an accessory to the murder unless he agreed to testify against Brady at the inquest into Smith’s murder set for June 12th Holmes agreed and on the morning of June 12 Holmes was discovered in his car with three bullets in his this time dead one thing to gather from this to is Brady definitely was the one who had the arm okay however you want to talk your way around that one that’s the that seems to be the fact whether he was doing it for someone else he was doing it on the orders of Holmes or he was doing it to then say I’m gonna blackmail Holmes yeah is the question I suppose Brady’s trial still went on but without Holmes to serve as witness the case fell apart Brady’s lawyer argued that according to a British statute from 1276 a body was necessary to conduct an inquest and a limb could not be considered a body the defense also argued that sharks typically digest food within 24 hours yet in order for the prosecution’s timeline to be correct the arm would have had to been in the shark anywhere from 8 to 17 days the defense also claimed it was possible someone had thrown the arm into the pool where the shark was kept at coogee aquarium and that it was never in the shark at all the prosecution came back with ichthyologists fish scientists who said the arm could have upset the shark’s digestion and impeded its function they also brought forth 14 witnesses who said they watched the shark vomit up the arm did you guys see the shark vomit up the arm yes after a day and a half Brady was acquitted and released a Sydney newspaper reported quote of course you are innocent mr. Brady but please don’t do it again mr. Brady end quote just have no life now I’ve noticed your Australian character why does he why does he tighten up like this what’s that it’s a choice I’ve made no do it again quieter and quiet quieter and quieter – I can’t even understand what you’re saying it’s time to look into some theories about what actually happened to Jimmy Smith the first theory is that Holmes’s story to police was correct and that Brady murdered Smith and tried to extort Holmes this is bolstered by the idea that Brady could have contracted Holmes’s murder so he couldn’t testify however at Brady’s trial defense attorneys pointed out that Brady was only five foot four making it unlikely he could have killed Smith alone of course his small stature wouldn’t have prevented Brady from using a gun but because no body was ever found it’s impossible to know how Jimmy was actually killed well what do you think about that because Holmes said he was gonna testify against Brady saying that Brady had done the whole thing and then the day of the trial he gets killed so that obviously does not look good for Brady No so I don’t think it’s like good to gloss over that fact that’s a major hurdle I feel like you need to kind of confront so very gutsy very gutsy I mean he still got off because of the whole the arm wasn’t attached to a body thing ya know I know that but very gutsy to to make a move like that when obviously tends to point back at you which brings us to a second theory no one killed Jimmy Smith because no body was found we cannot definitively say Smith was murdered it’s possible he didn’t want to bow to the pressure of Holmes’s criminal activities and wanted out but didn’t think he could do so safely so he faked his own death admittedly this theory seems unlikely as Smith could have probably gotten away with just a severed hand instead of an entire do you think he would be capable of cutting off his own arm I mean he obviously would have had help yeah he robbed away from his wife you know because if he’s faking his own death it’s obviously they’re in cahoots you know they’re gonna live a life somewhere together so he probably had her you know do the little tourniquet firm very sweet to be in cahoots with your wife I mean that’s kind of part of the bargain right yeah I guess you don’t hear that come up in vows very often sickness and in health and codes I would say that sickness includes missing an arm coming off yeah very sweet okay so Leonie then I have to cook my home off but don’t like this character anymore a third theory suggested by Australian legal historian Alex castles states that Smith was indeed killed at Brady’s cottage but that Brady was not involved some years after the case Brady’s wife said she had gone to the cottage thinking she would catch her husband with another woman instead she overheard a group of men playing cards and drinking castles believes Brady was out fishing and came back to find Jimmy already murdered according to this theory Brady never said anything about his former friends murder at a fear of retribution our final theory the only one that I can see has a clear motivation is that Holmes orchestrated Smith’s murder remember how Smith was the caretaker of a yacht that Holmes owned the Pathfinder I forgot about the pleasure boat back to the pleasure boat yeah yeah yeah oh that was good it’s actually good that you set that up and then I got so wrapped up in this crazy story that I forgot about this wonderful pleasure boat and now I’m reminded why I’m glad you forgot we decided to hear about the pleasure boat it turns out Holmes and his associates had purchased insured and destroyed the boat as part of an insurance scam Holmes however never received his insurance money as Smith had reportedly become a police informant telling authorities that the yachts destruction was suspicious this coupled with Smith’s reported blackmailing of Holmes over there check forging scams could have led Holmes to arrange with Brady to have Smith killed once Brady murdered Smith he brought the arm to Holmes as proof Holmes would have disposed of the arm in the ocean where a particularly unlucky shark happened upon it in this theory Holmes actually did get away with one last insurance scam police suspected that Holmes had contracted hitman to kill himself after buying a generous life insurance policy his wife and children would get the money and not have to endure the sinking embarrassment of his various crimes surfacing Holmes’s wife reportedly knew what happened to Smith and was about to share this information when she died mysteriously in a fire in nineteen fifty-two it should be noted that Brady didn’t die until 1965 do you think he got nervous when he read in the paper that a shark had vomited out an arm yeah like his wife came to him look at this hilarious headline he’s like I gotta make some calls wow that’s real funny sweat down his face when Burt Hobson and his son fished a tiger shark out of the ocean they were trying to lure attention to their floundering aquarium what they actually hoped was a mystery that would draw the attention of the entire country and end a local criminals life as for how Jimmy Spitz tattooed arm finally found its way into the shark that remains unsolved one thing to mind from all of this or the fish balls is that if it wasn’t for that pesky little shark Holmes would have got away with all of this friends murder each other all the time you know that happens that’s the way the world you know how to make some calls watch what you say okay take all like you don’t we say money you mean II don’t think you’re still doing it Hey you [Music]

100 thoughts on “The Unusual Australian Shark Arm Murders

  1. Shane only caught two?
    Business was FLOUNDERING.
    The world was in the DEPTHS of the great depression.
    LURE in customers.
    Keep business AFLOAT. haha

  2. My bf had a fish that ate another fish and was kind of a terrorist in the tank so we decided to let it free. While transporting it, it threw up the other fish's half digested carcass and I've never seen something so oddly creepy yet fascinating my whole life.

  3. But you know what’s sad? The poor shark that got killed just because he ate a man's arm without not knowing what is happening 🙁

  4. I have a theory to add. The shark could have attacked him, ate his arm but he ended up getting away but because of his arm he was unable to swim and he drowned.

  5. Ok wait did you just say a guy caught a shark that weighed a ton and he was able to put it in a tank? Seems legit.

  6. Certain sharks are also not supposed to be in aquariums as well because there isn’t a big enough aquarium for it to survive.

  7. Ryan: “Yeah, really just a bad week for that shark.”

    So NOT Shark Week?

    Edit: Also, “what’s a little extortion between friends?” -Elder Scrolls Online

  8. Speaking as an aussie、his accent was by far not the worst ive heard.

    Also "oo" in Coogee is pronounced like "oo" in wood.

    I swear he said like three different equally wrong pronunciations 😂

  9. You do know sharks can only live around a few days to a week or a few more because there always traveling it stresses them out and kills them poor sharky, anyway but yeah that what happens…………. SOOO IS IT TRUE OR FAKKKKKEEEEEEEEEE?! I have known idea!

  10. As someone who is 5'4", I take great offence at the implication that I'm too short to commit murder. I can and will kill whoever I want, whenever I want, thank you very much.

  11. controversy: he went fishing and drowned/fell into the water, the shark could only bit of his arm before he could escape/something scared the shark away.

  12. wtf are the chances they found THE shark that ate the arm….? Not only that they hooked the shark, but that they took the shark to the aquarium…. JUST crazy!

  13. Wait. Wait wait….
    The arms “original operator”….
    Did I hear that right?
    And “Original” it not like you see a arm on someone and say “ I wonder who’s arm that is, like I know it’s on the person but I mean the original operator

  14. Holmes was an absolute madlad.

    although it's hard to tell if he did actually sacrifice himself for his family I mean he was a criminal most of them lack remorse and are extremely selfish.

  15. There were already four sea-based puns! “Floundering”, “in the depths of”, “lure” and “afloat”!

  16. Take a hike, mate, otherwise I’ll be giving you the ‘Sydney Send-off’, wouldn’t I? What do you think of that, mate?

  17. He wanted to make sure his he gets identified,so he wanted to show his tattoo…that is why he had to cut from the elbow.

  18. Imagine this:
    Host: welcome back to Great depressions got talent! And now for our next act…
    Judge: hi! What’s s your name and what’s your talent?
    Mr.Brady: my name is Patric Brady and I am really good at forging signatures … like really good
    Viewer: uhhhhhhh….

  19. Ryan: Why don’t we DIVE DEEP and find out
    Ryan: Business was FLOUNDERING
    Ryan: In THE DEPTHS of the Great Depression
    Ryan:
    Ryan: He needed something to LURE customers in
    Ryan: and keep his business AFLOAT
    Shane: tHErEs AlREadY 2 SeA bASeD PuNS iN This NaraTIoN

  20. >when you commit a murder and a shark at an aquarium vomits out the victims arm in front of a crowd of people

    That's just bad luck

  21. There could be a chance that Jimmy faked his own murder because no additional remains was found inside shark's stomach… Also he cut his whole arm maybe to let people identify from his "large" tattoo, that it was him

    But also if this is true, it's a bizarre coincidence that the owner of aquarium caught the same shark which was fed by Jimmy's arm

  22. Okay as an Australian, I feel like I should tell you uninformed foreigners that people are most likely to kill you in Australia than any other animal. Australian animals are chill unless provoked. Like most people in Australia (let's take Steve Irwin) would be playing and hugging crocs. He even got his 5 yo daughter into doing it and she still lived! ALSO "G'DAY MATE AND THOSE OTHER WEIRD THINGS YOU GUYS THINK WE SAY ARE WRING! WE'VE NEVER SAID THEM! AND "SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE" DOSENT EVEN MAKE SENCE! WE CALL "SHRIMP" "PRAWNS" AND NOONE! ABSOLUTELY NOONE! PUTS PRAWNS ON THE BBQ! NOONE!

    Okay, my rant is done.

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