Fiona’s long fight to keep Bruce’s killers behind bars
Published: 17 July 2017
Archival interview raises questions… but no body
Stephen Struber explains his frustration with trespassers just two months before Bruce Schuler was killed
Image © 2012 Monte Dwyer
Fiona Splitt and her children had their lives shattered on July 9, 2012.
That was when Fiona’s partner of 27 years, Bruce Schuler, was shot dead while prospecting for gold on a remote north Queensland cattle station.
But all these years later, there’s still no sign of Bruce’s body. Or of any closure.
“It’s day in, day out,” she says. “So without bringing Bruce home, I can’t move on”.
Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber, who leased and occupied the property, were subsequently found guilty of murder, a verdict confirmed by an appeals court, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
For many years prior to the murder, Struber had a reputation for terrorising anyone who dared to stray onto the property.
It was an enticing enough tale to convince author Monte Dwyer, who in 2012 was filming a documentary on grey nomads, that Struber might be someone worth talking to. And Struber’s comments suggested that anyone that he found on the property, or even using the road that passed through it, might face some pretty fierce opposition.
“It’s only the people that I find on the property,” Struber says in the interview, conducted just two months before Bruce’s murder. “And when we go and talk to ‘em: ‘What are you doin’ here? Why, do you own the place?’ They’re the ones that make it hard for me, coz they’re the ones passing the word around that he’s a bad bloke.”
“You could hear his voice rise in pitch as he grew more frustrated,” Monte describes.
“When people are out there for an extended period of time away from the influence of civilisation, they become uncivilised to put it bluntly. And I think that’s what happened. I think these people, they were just getting away with it and getting away with it and getting away with it… until eventually they thought they could get away with murder”.
The Strubers still haven’t revealed any details about where Bruce’s body might be found. And Fiona and her children are campaigning to ensure that that means they remain behind bars.
And now it feels certain that Queensland parliament will support her by introducing a “no body, no parole” law, similar to laws which are already active in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
“A lot of it is respect for Dad,” says Bruce and Fiona’s son, Bruce Jnr. “He doesn’t want to be left out in the middle of nowhere and never be buried properly, or have a proper send off or whatever. But they’ve taken that away from us, so we can’t do nothing until they open their mouths.”
Monte has now written a book, Struberville: Consequences of Isolation, about the case, which he’s selling through his website.