Season 2 True Crime

Babyface Killer – Clearing Some Family Affairs

Nikki and Kalai talk about the family annihilator from Australia known as the Baby-Faced Killer, Sef Gonzales. Find out how his stupidity and selfishness turned him into a murderer and all the other embarrassing things he did to cover up his wrongdoings.

Sources: Murderpedia, Wikipedia

It’s one of Australia’s grisliest murders.

After a night out with his friends, Sef Gonzales comes home at 11:48 on July 10, 2001, to a grisly scene at his home in North Ryde, New South Wales, Australia

He runs to his neighbors home to call triple zero which is like 911 in Australia and told his neighbor and the dispatcher that his family has been shot

In the call he’s crying and hysterical that you can barely understand what he’s saying, the dispatcher kept telling him to calm down because he can’t understand him.

but from what I can understand, he said that his parents and his family have been shot and he kept asking for help, he kept asking what to do and the dispatcher told him that the police dudes are on their way.

Once the police arrived, he kept trying to go inside the house and he kept yelling that he needed to get inside, and that his family was shot and that he saw two dudes and two vans driving away but he couldn’t chase them.

On the wall outside their house, there was a message spray-painted “Fuck off Asians. KKK”

Inside the house were his parents and his only sister had multiple stab wounds all over the body, his dad also had defensive wounds and his sister Clodine who was found in her room had her head bashed in as well as strangulation marks on her neck.

It looked like they were all caught off guard when they were attacked

So the investigation began. Police started to question the neighbors and Sef.

The house seemed to be ransacked but nothing was taken, one of the things that stood out for the investigators was that the chaos, or how the house was ransacked seemed to be random, like whoever ransacked the house just wanted to make a mess.

None of the neighbors saw any vehicles that were unfamiliar and the attack seemed too random

So they started to look closer into the family to see if they could get answers.

Teddy Gonzales, a lawyer, and his wife Loiva who had married in 1977.

They had their first child Sef Gonzales was born in 1980, in Baguio, Philippines, and in 1983, their youngest daughter Clodine was born.

The 1990 Luzon earthquake destroyed the family’s home and business, a newly built 40-room hotel, Teddy had to rescue Sef from the rubble, so the family decided to immigrate to Australia. 

The family settled in Sydney, and by the late 1990s, Teddy had qualified as a lawyer again, set up a successful law firm, began working as an immigration lawyer, and purchased a plot of land in North Ryde.

The family appeared like a typical Asian family, they were close and known to be devout Catholics but the parents, were the typical Asian parent stereotype, they were strict, they’re what we Asians would call tiger parents and I know there’s been like a discussion on that stereotype, Nikki and I can say it because we know what these parents are like,

For those that aren’t Asians, they’re the type of parents that have high hopes and strict expectations for their children.

We know that type very well.

With the Gonzaleses, they had hoped their son would perform well academically, give up his musical and singing aspirations, and take the path of a career in medicine or law.

 After attending high school Sef studied medical science at the University of New South Wales but withdrew from his classes after two years.

He then enrolled in law at Macquarie University but he was performing poorly that he was at risk of getting expelled so Sef tried to cover up his failure by falsifying his grades.

When his sister found out about this and told their parents, they threatened to remove certain privileges including his prized car, a green Ford Festiva. 

Sef also argued with his mother over a girlfriend of whom she disapproved, and his family threatened to disinherit him.

Because Sef started to feel trapped and he felt that his life was falling apart, and the fact that his girlfriend got back with her ex-boyfriend, he decided to kill his family.

Thinking that he could get his life back by getting his family’s inheritance, he started his plans in getting rid of his family.

Investigator found that he was looking for “Methods of killing” in his search history.

There he found the first method that tried to kill his family with, poisonous beans.

In one of his searches, he learned that the poisonous beans could kill in three days and leave no obvious signs of how the death occurred.

In one website, it explained how to mix the beans with food, the symptoms, convulsions, and severe viral pain, would gradually set in and cause a slow painful death.

The investigators found out that Sef had placed orders for the beans from a site in the US and a company in Byron Bay.

Sef even went as far as creating a false food contamination scare at a major company.

He sent in a letter to the company, the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service, and the Australian Federal Police that said “three of your products have been poisoned. By now they are on the supermarket shelves. This is what you get for treating employees like garbage. Good luck on finding infected cans before someone dies. Go to hell!!!”

His mother was admitted to the hospital with what they thought was food poisoning but eventually recovered. So he decided to stab his family to kill them.

On 10 July 2001, at about 4:00 p.m., Sef left the family’s law firm, where he worked part-time and headed to the family home.

Around 4:30 pm, he got his baseball bat and two kitchen knives from their kitchen, he entered Clodine’s bedroom and beat her while she was studying. 

He tried to strangle her, struck her head with the bat at least six times, and then proceeded to stab her multiple times with the knives.

The cause of Clodine’s death was a combination of the compression of her neck, blunt force head injuries, and abdominal stab wounds. 

Sef then waited for his mother, Loiva to arrive home at about 5:30 p.m. Once Loiva entered the living room, Sef attacked her with one of the kitchen knives.

Loiva had multiple stab wounds and cuts to her face, neck, chest, and abdomen. Her windpipe was also almost completely crushed.

At around 6 pm, unaware of what just happened Sef’s maternal aunt and her son visited the house. She noted that she saw Sef’s and Clodine’s cars in the driveway, but the house was dark and even though the family had six small dogs, it was unusually quiet.

She peered a bit into the house and noticed movement. She thought about entering through the garage but decided to leave instead.

Teddy then arrived home about 6.50 pm. After entering the house, Sef attacked him with one of the kitchen knives and inflicted multiple stab wounds to his neck, chest, back, and abdomen.

One of the stab wounds penetrated his right lung, another penetrated his heart, and another partially severed his spinal cord. Teddy sustained defensive wounds, suggesting that there was a struggle.

After killing his family, Sef got rid of the murder weapons, his clothes, and the size 7 running shoes he was wearing while committing the murders.

He showered, got into different clothes, and spray painted the words “Fuck off Asians” on a wall in the house in an attempt to mislead the investigators into believing that his family had been the victims of hate crime. 

Sef then drove to a friend’s house, got there at about 8:00 pm. He and his friend then went to the Sydney CBD, where they ate at Planet Hollywood and visited a nearby arcade.

Later in the evening, Sef dropped his friend off, then returned home where he pretended to discover his families’ bodies and ran to his neighbor’s house, told them his family had been shot, and called 911 from there.

One the police arrived, Sef tried to enter his home by creating a scene and he kept screaming that his parents had been shot. He also told the police that he did see men running off from his house into a car that sped off.

In the days following the murders, Sef appeared on television asking for the killers to come forward, saying he wanted justice and offering a reward of $100,000.

A few days after the murder, Sef visited the family’s accountant, enquiring about his inheritance (estimated at $1.5m in Australia and another $1.3m in The Philippines) 

And since he seemed to be a victim of crime, he was also eligible for a $15,000 payout. Sef then moved to an apartment in Chatswood and put a deposit on a $173,000 Lexus, and told the dealership he would be using his inheritance to pay for the vehicle.

He had also traded his parents’ cars and pawned his mother’s jewelry.

Sef also lied to his relatives that he had a brain tumor and asked his godmother in the Philippines for $190,000 for the alleged surgery, but she did not give him any money.

At the combined family funeral, he gave the eulogy and sang “One Sweet Day” which some attendees found odd.

Police initially assumed that the murders were part of a robbery attempt. However, when the investigations started, it was noted that there was an absence of a forced entry and nothing of value was missing even though the house was ransacked.

There was also a significant time difference of the murders which would be unlikely for thieves to remain in the house for that long.

They also noticed an emotional detachment and many inconsistencies in Sef’s story, such as his claims of performing CPR, and no evidence of any intruders, police began to suspect that he was involved.

The neighbors were also interviewed and none of them saw a speeding vehicle that matched Sef’s description nor did they see any type of unknown vehicle in the vicinity.

Investigators found the same paint used in the graffiti scrawl on his clothes and a shoebox in his room matched the footprints of shoes used in the attack.

Investigators also searched his internet records, his phone calls began to be recorded, and he was befriended by an undercover policeman.

In December 2001, police were able to disprove Sef’s first alibi, that he waited in his car in the driveway before driving to another suburb and later meeting his friend on the night of the murders.

Sef then told a second alibi, he claimed that he had taken a taxi (as his car may have been recognized) and visited a brothel at the time of the murders, but this was discredited by both the supposed taxi driver and the sex worker.

Other false trails included the fabrication of an e-mail that implicated a business rival of Teddy in the murders and the staging of an attempted burglary on 30 May.

A breakthrough came when his fingerprint was matched to a series of product poisoning letters that matched address searches on his PC.

Other evidence indicated his research into poisons, the ordering of toxic-plant seeds, and recent unexplained poisoning-like illnesses in his family.

 On 13 June 2002, detectives from Strike Force Tawas arrested Gonzales.

Sef was charged with three counts of murder and one count of threatening product contamination.

He was refused bail and during this time, he was denied access to the family’s estate to fund his defense.

In the trial, they revealed that Sef had planned the murders for several months before it took place. Initially, Sef researched the idea of poisoning his family, which led to an elaborate contamination hoax one week before the killings.

The court heard of numerous lies told to his friends, family, and police regarding his whereabouts at the time of the murders, suggesting that Sef was a pathological liar.

It was found that he had committed the murders because he was fearful that, because of his poor performance in his university studies, his parents might take his car away from him and might withdraw other privileges which had been granted to him and that he wished to be the sole beneficiary of his parent’s property.

On 20 May 2004, he was found guilty of all four charges. He was sentenced on 17 September 2004 to three concurrent life sentences without parole for the murders.

Justice Bruce James remarked that “I consider that the murders show features of very great heinousness and that there are no facts mitigating the objective seriousness of the murders and hence the murders fall within the worst category of cases of murder at common law.”

In June 2007, Sef was granted approval to appeal his conviction and his sentence. The Supreme Court determined that statements taken from Sef by police on the night of the murders may be inadmissible, as he was not cautioned.

On 27 November 2007, the appeal was dismissed as there had been no miscarriage of justice, and his convictions remained. As of 2020, Sef Gonzales continues to serve his sentence at the Goulburn Correctional Centre, where he continues to profess his innocence.

Sef Gonzales

Lovie, Clodine and Teddy Gonzales

The Gonzales home. The blue car on the left is Sef’s.

The vandal on the wall

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