WARNING: Graphic content

 

IT WAS the smell that drew police to the inner Brisbane apartment.

A foul stench no-one could quite place. Unmistakably foreign.

But no-one could ever have imagined the true horror that lay behind that apartment door.

Human flesh, simmering slowly on a stovetop.

Marcus Volke was a chef by trade - a chef with a particular interest in bone broth.

But the final broth the 27-year-old would make came not from any quest for healthy living.

He made it to conceal.

To conceal a murder and to conceal the sordid double life his family knew nothing about.


THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
 

 

Marcus Volke, 27, had a lot to hide.
Marcus Volke, 27, had a lot to hide.

 

The Double One 3 apartment complex in the up-market, riverside enclave of Teneriffe was so new in early October 2014, a giant banner still hung on the side of the building advertising units for rent.

Finishing touches were still being applied inside.

Ad hoc pieces of A4 paper taped to walls directed residents to their new homes, which investors had paid upwards of $600,000 for.

Volke, who was raised in the small country Victorian farming community of Haddon, just outside Ballarat, was among the first to move in.

He and his young Indonesian wife Mayang Prasetyo had lived in a ground floor apartment with their three small pugs for just a couple of months.

During their brief tenure in the building, Ms Prasetyo was frequently seen walking the dogs along the riverside paths and in parks nearby.

On the surface, they were a young couple who had recently returned to Brisbane after working on cruise ships, he as a chef, she as a cabaret dancer.

The reality was very, very different.

 

DOUBLE LIVES

Volke left his regional Victorian home for Melbourne to further his trade after high school but he soon discovered a far more lucrative profession.
 

The finishing touches were still being applied to Double One 3 apartments in October, 2014.
The finishing touches were still being applied to Double One 3 apartments in October, 2014.

At Pleasure Dome brothel, which promotes itself as having Australia's "finest selection of male escorts and transsexuals," he was introduced to fellow sex worker Ms Prasetyo.

Born Febri Andriansyah in Indonesia, she transitioned to a woman before moving to Australia and working as a high class transgender escort, eventually charging her clients $500 per hour.

She sent the funds back to her impoverished mother and two younger sisters at home, paying for the girls to go to school.

They had no idea how she was earning the money that supported them.

The couple moved into private escort services after leaving the Melbourne brothel and travelled the world plying their trade.

They settled for a while in Denmark, where, under the name Heath XL, Volke advertised himself as a "young sexy Australian boy, very friendly and easy going, discreet and professional."

"I'm open to all kinds of people, ages and backgrounds but if you are cool, serious and generous, then we can be a match!"

In 2013, the couple married in Copenhagen, after Volke asked his prospective mother-in-law for permission to marry her daughter on a return trip the couple made to Indonesia.
 

A picture from an internet escort site where Marcus Volke advertised his services under the pseudonym Heath XL.
A picture from an internet escort site where Marcus Volke advertised his services under the pseudonym Heath XL.

While Ms Prasetyo's family knew of her marriage, Volke's family back near Ballarat were completely in the dark.

As far as they knew, the son who infrequently called home and occasionally visited - alone - was travelling the world while cooking on cruise ships.

They knew nothing of Ms Prasetyo's existence, or of their son's double life.

The extent of his deception was not revealed until after his death.

In addition to coming to terms with the grief of suddenly losing their son, the couple also had to absorb the confronting details of his sordid life being so publicly exposed.

When reporters came knocking at the family property in the days following the deaths, Volke's clearly distressed father Peter, a karate instructor, chased them away.

The 27-year-old was farewelled in a small, private funeral service in North Ballarat.

Media interest was high but they were told, in no uncertain terms, they were not welcome.

 

A NEW LIFE IN BRISBANE

Volke and his new wife returned to Australia nearly a year after their August 2013 marriage in Copenhagen.
 

Volke and his new wife had not long returned to Australia.
Volke and his new wife had not long returned to Australia.

Like many affluent young professionals, they chose to live in Teneriffe, an up-market Brisbane suburb that hugs the river.

Teneriffe boasts plentiful cafes, bars and boutiques, among the rustic, riverside red brick buildings that once operated as wool stores, now converted to sought after apartments.


Volke and his new wife had not long returned to Australia.
The couple both continued to work as private escorts.

Friends and family hinted that, despite their recent marriage, their relationship was a volatile one.

None of them could have foreseen the horror to come.

 

THE MURDER

Neighbours heard Volke and his wife fighting inside their apartment late on Thursday, October 2.

Ms Prasetyo was not seen again.

In the days following the discovery of her remains, Detective Senior Sergeant Tom Armitt said investigators did not believe the murder was a premeditated one, but the tragic outcome of a heated domestic dispute.
 

The apartment kitchen
The apartment kitchen

The true circumstances of her death may never be known.

But while Volke may not have intended to kill Ms Prasetyo, he went to extreme lengths to cover up her murder.

It was not just the inevitable charges and loss of his liberty that was looming.

The discovery of her death would also expose the life he had so carefully hidden for so many years.

Stuck with his wife's body in a heavily populated area, Volke got to work with the disposing of it.

He took out a large pot and one of his chef's knives and cut her into pieces.

It is not known exactly when he hatched his disturbing plan.

But by Saturday, there was that distinctive stench pervading the air of the Double One 3 complex.

The first sign that something was amiss in Volke's apartment.

It was similar to rotting meat, some residents later told police. Like dog food, others reported.

The smell itself may not have ever been enough for residents to call police and Volke may well have gotten away with murder.

But on the Saturday, two days after Ms Prasetyo's death, fate intervened.

 

FATE INTERVENES

The pot Volke was using to cook parts of his wife's body boiled over and into the electric oven.

It short-circuited and cut the power supply to the apartment.

To carry out his plan, Volke had no choice but to phone an electrician.
 

Facebook pictures of Marcus Volke and Mayang Prasetyo.
Facebook pictures of Marcus Volke and Mayang Prasetyo.

He sounded casual when he called Brad Coyne.

"G'day, is this a 24 hour electrician?" he asked in that phone call.

"Yeah," came Mr Coyne's reply.

"I've got a bit of a problem."

Later that day, Mr Coyne knocked on the apartment door.

"You have to mind the smell," Volke said to him.

He was cooking pig's broth, he explained to the electrician, who already knew otherwise.

Garbage bags were strewn around the apartment.

Volke jumped the balcony fence, into the rear laneway, while fleeing police.
Volke jumped the balcony fence, into the rear laneway, while fleeing police.

There were bottles of chemicals and rubber gloves, the smell of bleach mingling with that odd, foul stench.

He restored the power, left the apartment.

On the way out, he talked to the building manager and police were called.

Within hours, Volke would also take his own life.

 

THE WELFARE CHECK

Senior Constable Bryan Reid and Constable Liam McWhinney responded to the building manager's request for the welfare check.

The pair knocked on the door just before 9pm on Saturday and the killer was caught red-handed.

A routine welfare check became the stuff of nightmares.

The scene that confronted the officers in that near-new unit was particularly gruesome - human body parts simmering in the pot on the stove and other parts filling garbage bags on the floor, ready for disposal.

Volke instinctively fled, clutching a knife.

He hurdled his balcony fence, which faced a laneway behind the building, and then over another fence, leaving both smeared with blood.

He continued to leave a blood trail as he ran and hid in a nearby laneway.

With a suspected murderer on the loose, police quickly mobilised and soon an estimated 15 officers swarmed around the bin in Dath Street.

For years, Volke had successfully concealed his marriage and life as a male prostitute.

As he hid from police in the wheelie bin it was all on the brink of exposure.

He took the knife he still held and slashed his own throat, leaving subsequent CPR attempts by police and paramedics utterly hopeless.

 

THE CORONIAL INQUEST

The investigation into Volke and Prasetyo's death was a lengthy and painstaking one.

The Queensland Ethical Standards Command, the body reserved for internal police investigations, led the probe, as Volke was on the run from two officers when he took his life.

This week, Coroner Terry Ryan will hear submissions to make the final ruling on one of Brisbane's most gruesome cases of murder-suicide.
 

The couple pictured in Denmark before their marriage.
The couple pictured in Denmark before their marriage.

The death of Febri Andriansyah, as the pre-operative transgender woman was still legally known, is expected to be a largely open and shut ruling.

That of Volke, however, warrants further investigation.

The police response will be under the microscope, with the question Mr Ryan will make the ruling on being, did the officers who were called to the scene that night contribute, in any way, to the 27-year-old's death?

Both Sen Const. Reid and Const. McWhinney, the first responders, are scheduled to give evidence.

As are three other officers, Detective Sergeant Tom Jakes, the dog squad's Senior Constable Robert Richardson and district duty officer, Senior Sergeant Sean McKay.

The coronial hearing is set for two days in Brisbane.

If you or someone close to you needs help, call Lifeline on 131 114 or visit beyondblue.org.au

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800 RESPECT.

News Corp Australia

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