Murder accused Rodney Lawrence in court over Elizabeth Dixon cold case

A man charged with the murder of Elizabeth "Betty" Dixon, who was killed in East Maitland 33 years ago, sat calmly looking about him when he appeared in Maitland Local Court on Thursday. 

Rodney Lawrence, 64, from Stockton, made no application for bail as he was led into court in handcuffs.

Duty solicitor Peter Cleaves told Magistrate John Chicken: "I cannot be in a position today to make a substantial bail application.

"This warrants a bail application and my suggestion is that next week in Newcastle I can be in a position to make that application."

The Magistrate formerly refused bail and Lawrence was remanded in custody, to appear by way of audio visual link in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday next week.

With his head tilted back and blinking occasionally, Lawrence looked alert as he glanced about him.

Bearded, with a moustache, Lawrence was dressed in jeans and a dark jacket.

According to police papers tendered to the court, Lawrlence murdered Elizabeth Dixon at Ashtonfield between the third day of April, 1982 and the next day, April 4.



Rodney Lawrence has appeared in Maitland Local Court charged with the murder of Elizabeth "Betty'' Dixon. 

Solicitor Peter Cleaves told the court no bail application would be made today. Lawrence is set to appear by audio visual link at Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday, November 4. 

Magistrate John Chicken refused bail.


A  64-year-old Stockton man charged with the murder of Elizabeth "Betty'' Dixon in 1982 is expected to appear at Maitland local court today.

The man was arrested and charged on Wednesday after police made a long-awaited breakthrough in the case.

He was refused bail to appear in Raymond Terrace Local Court on Thursday, but the proceedings have reportedly been moved to Maitland.


More than 30 years have passed since the 1982 murder of the young Metford woman, Elizabeth "Betty'' Dixon, and on Wednesday police made a ­monumental break through in the case.

Central Hunter detectives arrested and charged a 64-year-old Stockton man with Ms Dixon's murder.

It is believed he had strong sporting links with Maitland at the time of the murder.

The man was refused bail to appear in Raymond Terrace Local Court on Thursday.

The arrest came after a member of the public tipped-off police and it was this break that many in the community had been waiting so long for.


MURDERED IN 1982: Elizabeth 'Betty' Dixon.

MURDERED IN 1982: Elizabeth 'Betty' Dixon.

Elizabeth "Betty'' Dixon was stabbed 27 times, beaten with a blunt object and dumped in her car on a dirt track in Ashtonfield.

Now police have arrested and charged a man for her murder.

Artie Dover, the junior detective who helped in the initial murder investigation, had always thought the case needed to be solved for Betty.

"I remember the night like it was yesterday," Mr Dover said.

"It was horrific. She was stabbed so many times she was like a pin cushion."

Ms Dixon was brutally stabbed 27 times in her chest and neck, five of those piercings hit her heart.

The murder occurred some time between Saturday, April 3, and Tuesday, April 6, 1982.

She had been beaten across the head at least three times with a blunt object, while her hands were bound behind her back with a black shoelace that had been tied in a neat bow.

Ms Dixon was 31 at the time of her death and had been living in Tennyson Street, Metford.  The last time she was seen was at East Maitland Hit 'N' Dip the Saturday before she was killed. 

It was not until April 6 about 5.45pm that the body was discovered.

Pharmacist Bill Leahy found Ms Dixon inside her yellow 1977 Mazda that was parked on a bush track off Stronach Avenue in East Maitland.

She was slumped in the front seat just a short distance from her flat. Her car keys and wallet were missing.

At the time, Mr Leahy said he only checked inside the car because of its bright colour and he had seen it in the bushland the previous afternoon.

When news of the murder broke, the government posted a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer on January 2, 1985, but the case went cold.

It was not until 2013 that investigations reopened when the state government upped the reward to $150,000.

Unsolved Homicide Team detectives, through Strike Force Wickfield, reinterviewed every person who had initially spoken to police in the hope of reigniting the trail of evidence.

Now, 33 years later, police have found the breakthrough they had hoped for.

Ms Dixon, known as Betty to most people, had moved to Australia from Ireland more than two years before she was killed.

She was well-known around the Maitland area, lived close to her sister and spent her spare time playing squash. 

She would have been 64 years old this year.