Back in 2005 there was a biker in jail – a professional head-cracker– who was so love-struck by Robyn Lindholm that he was known to burst into tears at the mention of her name.
Aside from the bruise to his reputation as a hard man, he got off light. At the time, Robyn Lindholm – who’ll go to her grave as “the serial killer stripper” – was beginning her side career of recruiting new lovers and admirers to kill off old ones.
I’d heard about the biker because I’d started poking around the stripping scene for evidence about a woman in the trade who'd gone missing.
Second killing led to her first arrest
In 2015, Lindholm was jailed for 25 years after she coaxed two besotted fools to murder her former boyfriend Wayne Amey. The killing, neither quick nor clean, occurred in 2013.
This week, in the Supreme Court of Victoria, Lindholm was told she’d spend at least 30 years in jail after being convicted of murdering her live-in boyfriend George Teazis in 2005.
It was the very week Teazis went missing that Robyn Lindholm and I were reunited, in a series of texts and phone calls that ended with her making threats, then cutting off contact.
By then, my colleague Mark Russell – a senior court reporter for The Age – and I were convinced she had knocked off Teazis, and that she probably knew something about the disappearance of a fellow erotic dancer, Shari Davison.
We waited 11 years to see her charged. By then she had killed again.
First meeting in 1993
When I first met Robyn Lindholm 26 years ago, her driver was a compact and business-like lad named Pat who kept a shotgun in the boot for country buck's parties.
Pat told stories of peeling out, buck-shot spraying, horn-dog hayseeds giving chase, and young Robyn being the provocation. He seemed fond of her but not in her thrall.
She was 20 years old, short and petite, an ice-skating champion, newly dropped out of a science degree, moving into animal husbandry studies.
She talked to me about her dream of owning her own place in the country – horses, a quiet life. There was nothing to suggest she'd end up burying a boyfriend at the wished-for homestead.
A detached performer
Some women take to stripping as a goofy lark, smiling throughout their routines as if to say “what a hoot.” A sense of humour gets them by. Others make out like they’re doing ballet, seriously engaged in an art form. Robyn always gave off a blank remove, as if she wasn't really there. For her, stripping was a means to a real-estate end.
She told me that once she got enough money together, she'd be out.
At the time, I was editor-in-chief of Truth newspaper, and an offshoot rag called World magazine that hired strippers to appear as characters in stories that were virtual cartoons. We also played pranks.
Robyn – who went by the professional name of Collette – was one of 15 strippers we hired for a stunt that was reported around the world. There was a US nuclear-powered warship in Melbourne at the time.
We called media outlets and announced a nude protest, on the docks. The women carried placards reading "NUCLEAR FREE NUDES" and "PUSSIES FOR PEACE".
I recall it was Robyn's g-stringed backside that appeared the next day in the Herald Sun and the NT News.
Soon after this stunt I was looking for a new job – and Robyn apparently began to lose her way. She held to her dream of buying a farm but the men she became attached to were dangerous, unstable and involved in the city's volatile amphetamine trade.
There was her much-reported but little detailed stint as the love thing of Carlton thug Alphonse Gangitano, memorialised in the Underbelly series by Vince Colosimo.
As far as we know, Alphonse was the first of her boyfriends to be murdered – famously in his underpants, by a third party, in 1998.
Ten years went by more or less respectably for me at The Sunday Age. I began writing cold case murder stories with colleague and friend Mark Russell.
We had just finished The Case of the Playboy Pensioner (one stab wound to the heart, one closet with various samples of pubic hair sticky-taped to a wall of honour) and we were looking for something new.
Young mother and dancer, gone without a trace
Exotic dancer and former circus trapeze artist Shari Davison had vanished after leaving Crown casino in the breakfast hours of a Saturday morning, February 18, 1995.
The vanishing of this young woman from such a place – a woman who happened to be the mother of a baby still in nappies – put an almost mystical shiver through the public imagination.
We started tracking down people who knew her. What followed was an endless plunge into rabbit holes and a story we never wrote – and a series of contacts who ended up dead.
There were so many rumours, ratbags and depraved offshoots in our digging around, that Shari seemed to shrink further away, become less a person than a smudged icon – something like Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks.
In the end, the story led us to someone else who was much like Shari Davison: small, blonde, pretty and off the rails. Robyn Lindholm. We'll get back to that.
An inquest in 2001 found that Shari Davison had a taste for drugs, booze and bad men – and was pronounced mysteriously dead.
She had, in the weeks before her disappearance, confided that she was in serious trouble. She seemed to tell everybody, including taxi drivers.
A gang of young Greeks dealing in speed and guns around Richmond featured prominently in the inquest.
Her housemate in Footscray at the time of her disappearance was gang member and prime suspect Nick Kitsoukilias.
I managed to speak with a soft-spoken Kitsoukilias via his mobile phone. I asked that we meet, he said he'd think about it. We never spoke again. A murder blog lists him as a homicide but we understand he actually died in a bike accident in 2014.
We talked to gang member Louis Roumeliotis, whose former girlfriend did "double acts" with Shari. At the time, he was back home living in Abbotsford with his mother, a woman in an apron and headscarf, looking much like a village peasant, worried and confused when she opened the door.
"Yes, Mama, a cup of tea would be good," he told her, before losing the sweet demeanour, turning on me and demanding: "I have to frisk you."
Roumeliotis, highly-strung and quick-tempered, told a complicated tale about a handgun, 2000 rounds of ammunition, and six ounces of speed that a paranoid Kitsoukilias, under police investigation, had planted in Shari's underwear drawer.
"He told [the police] she got it from me. They think I've gone and whacked her for six ounces," said Roumeliotis.
What especially annoyed Roumeliotis was the poor quality of the speed. If the police had paid attention to how "crap" it was, they'd have concluded "it wasn't worth killing for," he said.
Then something weird happened
By May 2005, we were keen to talk with George Teazis, the gang's standover man who had done five months prison on drugs and weapons charges. Teazis was named at the Davison inquest in an odd story where he put a gun to a woman's head and ordered her to move home with her father.
We were also keen to speak with Robyn Lindholm. She and Davison had worked for the same agency – Simply Irresistible – and were said to have been close friends. It turned out that Teazis was living with Lindholm.
However, by the time we spoke with Robyn, Teazis had gone missing, presumed murdered. She initially agreed to meet with us – and then declined.
Soon after, people close to Shari Davison stopped talking to us. Davison’s mother, in a fraught phone call, wanted the whole matter dropped.
But other people, notably stripping industry insiders, started talking … about Robyn and George. They claimed Robyn hoped George might rise up in the criminal world and become another Alphonse Gangitano.
That was never going to happen
George just didn’t have those kind of connections and his taste for violence was largely limited to doing "run-throughs" – storming drug dens and making off with the cash and product. Low-rent, dangerous thieving that usually ends with a bullet or a crippling bashing.
When we reported that Teazis and Lindholm had suffered money troubles with bikers – being forced to kneel with guns to their heads in a car park outside a cinema – Lindholm called and left a threatening message. "You better watch what you say."
We also learnt that Robyn had another boyfriend at the time, a Hawthorn gym owner named Wayne Amey. He was working as a personal trainer for a strip club owner who I'd known since the Truth days. She told me that before Teazis had gone missing, Amey had – much like that jailed biker – been routinely in tears over Robyn.
"He said George was knocking Robyn around. He kept saying he was going to kill George. It went on and on. It got scary and I stopped training with him," she said.
I spoke once with Wayne Amey by phone. In a peculiar sulky voice he simply said "talk to Robyn." It reminded me of being caught up in an immature spat.
By then, of course, Amey had murdered George Teazis, only to find Robyn didn’t want him anymore.He took the foolish lover route of hanging on by staking a claim on her beloved property – only to end up buried between some rocks.
The teenage son
Ross Teazis, George's son, was 16 years old and living with his father and Robyn in a house in Melbourne's northern suburbs when George went missing.
He said that George didn't want to go back to jail, that being a gangster was no longer fun. He changed his name to Templeton, and was trying to go straight, having returned to the family trade as a carpet layer.
He took on Ross as an apprentice. The hours were long, and the work was hard on the knees and the back. "I don't know where he would have found the time to do anything else. By the end of the day we were both worn out," said Ross of the rumours that George was still hectic in the gun and drugs trade.
As far as the boy could see, his father was building a new life. They were making plans. "We were talking about buying a house and starting up a new business and he was trying to get to know the younger kids," he told me.
Ross said it was very late, the night of May 2, 2005 when George Teazis disappeared. He'd drunk an entire bottle of brandy in memory of his father, Spiros, who'd taught him the carpet trade. As he celebrated the old man's birthday, George was also numbing himself against the guilt he felt for not being around when Spiros had died from cancer in 2000.
The boy was there when his dad was killed
Ross was living with George and Robyn when his father went missing. Ross didn't believe – as was widely reported – that George drove away from the house that night in his 1999 silver Holden Rodeo utility.
"He was stumbling when he came to say goodnight," said Ross. "There's no way he could have got the car into first gear. He was just too drunk."
Ross was housed in a granny flat at the back of the house. He usually had his music turned up loud. He rarely heard whatever was going on inside the bungalow that George shared with Robyn. Sometimes the three of them ate together but otherwise, Ross says, he didn't have much to do with Robyn.
Two weeks before disappearing, George called one of his brothers in tears. He'd just caught Robyn in bed with another man (presumably Wayne Amey), and they'd had a violent fight.
At around midnight on that last evening, with George full of brandy, Robyn Lindholm left with a friend named Linda. She says she came home to find the front door open and George gone.
The next morning she told police she'd received a text from George at about 2.30am saying he might be in some trouble and needed to be picked up, but didn't say where he was calling from.
George's belongings go missing
Ross Teazis noticed that the furniture had been moved around, and that a three-metre long rug – black with a brown circular pattern – was missing.
Over the next couple of days, Ross, then 16, says he was given a number of marijuana buds by Robyn to keep himself calm.
About a week after the vanishing, he came home to find the house had been emptied, and there was a moving van outside. Ross noticed that his father's F100 campervan was missing, along with his motorbike, a boat, a rear-projection television, jewellery, and other assorted goods worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Ross said he was so stunned at the time, he immediately went to a friend's home to settle himself.
Later he tried calling Robyn, to claim his father's belongings. "She eventually sent me a text … that there was some stuff at the house … it was a couple of boxes on the doorstep. Some clothes and his remote-controlled cars," he says.
When he asked about the vehicles, Robyn told him he'd be "getting nothing… and she forwarded her solicitor's details."
The public plea from the apparent widow
By then, Robyn Lindholm had tearfully fronted that police press conference, calling for information about George's disappearance. Ross and other Teazis family members attended.
They say that prior to fronting the cameras, Lindholm was seen laughing with her friend Linda. Robyn shed some tears as the conference played out, and was seen laughing again when it was over.
Afterward, Ross and family went to the Reservoir house to retrieve some of his clothes. One family member remembers standing in the kitchen, looking at the doorway, expecting George to walk in. Robyn allegedly said: "I wouldn't worry about that. He's not coming back."
The ending we’d waited for
In my last week working at The Sunday Age, in 2016, Mark Russell and I broke the story that Robyn – already in jail for organising Wayne Amery’s murder – was to be charged with the murder of George Teazis.
As for the matter of Shari Davison, 21 years lost. We understand police no longer regard George Teazis as a suspect in her murder, and have shifted their focus to Robyn Lindholm and presumably other besotted idiots. There were plenty.
Mark Russell and I are still poking around.
John Elder was a senior writer at The Sunday Age for 21 years. He is now Science Editor for The New Daily. He and Mark Russell are working a book about Robyn Lindholm, Shari Davison and other women gone missing in the stripping industry. A version of this story was previously published by The Age.