Crash Course: Little Known History – The Infamous Man-woman Murderer Case

Eugeni Falleni aka Harry Crawford

Eugeni Falleni aka Harry Crawford

1920: Harry Crawford (in the picture) looks like a man but her real name was Eugenia Falleni.

Eugenia Falleni of Sydney, Australia posed as a man from 1899 until her arrest for murder in 1920. She spent most of her life masquerading as a man. In 1913 she married widow, Annie Birkett, whom she later murdered. The case whipped the public into a frenzy as they clamoured for details of the ‘man-woman’ murderer.

Photo of Eugenia Falleni, as she really was, taken in 1928.

Photo of Eugenia Falleni, as she really was, taken in 1928.

The Whole Story: In 1913, as ‘Harry Crawford’, Falleni had married the widow Annie Birkett. Four years later (1917), shortly after she announced to a relative that she had found out ‘something amazing about Harry’, Birkett disappeared. Crawford told neighbours that she had run off with a plumber. In 1919 Birkett’s young son, who had remained in Crawford’s custody, told an aunt of attempts made on his life by his drunken stepfather.

The aunt contacted police. A charred body which had been found in Lane Cove in 1917 was belatedly identified as Birkett’s. ‘Crawford’s’ astonished second wife, when finally convinced of Falleni’s true gender remarked, “I always wondered why he was so painfully shy…”

Crash

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