William Kelvin Fox, now 69, has served 22 years in jail for the 1996 murder of ex-wife Patricia Gaye Atkinson, near Gympie, and the 1992 attempted murder of Barbara “Basia” Hellwich.
Ms Hellwich, who still lives with a constant reminder of Fox’s attempt to kill her – bullets still lodged in her head and body – is angry that he is about to be quietly released.
Fox had repeatedly been refused parole, but after a recent Queensland Parole Board review, Ms Hellwich, 58, was shocked to learn he would be freed from jail on parole on June 29.
“I felt a gut-wrenching rush of emotions. It was instantaneous. It crushed my spirit,” said Ms Hellwich, who was shot three times, in the head and armpit, while holding her son, Bodein, two.
She says Fox, who is to be released into the Caboolture community, is dangerous, violent, conniving and manipulative and she believes he could still pose a great danger.
Fox was on bail for abducting a woman and children and sexual assault in NSW when he shot her, and he still has never been dealt with for those alleged offences.
“If I was living in Queensland now, I would be scared. But I’m not comfortable that people will be living next door to him or near him,” Basia Hellwich, who lives in South Australia, said.
Fox shot Ms Hellwich with a .22 calibre rifle at close range in the face, head and neck while she sat in her Gold Coast caravan during a night in April, 1992.
He had come after his ex-de facto partner, Ms Hellwich’s son’s grandmother, Colleen King, who had left him and was visiting Ms Hellwich.
Around 3.30am, Ms Hellwich, then 30, saw Fox in the doorway, with a rifle pointed straight at her.
“I started to get up and he shot me in the face, it went into the side of my nose,” she said.
“My son Bodein woke up and ran down to me and I ended up with him in my lap when Fox put the gun to the back of my head and my armpit and shot me.
“He had a gun pointed at my son’s head. I was begging ‘Please, don’t shoot him’.
“I was trying to wrap myself around him, so I could somehow protect him.”
“When I came to, Fox was gone. He must have thought I was dead.”
A judge described the attempted murder as “a cold, robot-like execution-style shooting on a defenceless woman in her own home”.
Ms Hellwich is extremely lucky to be alive. One bullet was drained out of her head but a second bullet is still there, about a millimetre away from her brain stem.
There are still bullet fragments inside her, from the shot under her armpit that broke two ribs, went through her liver and into her abdomen..
It was three and a half years before Fox was caught at Tiaro, near Maryborough, in late 1995.
Ms Hellwich was shocked when he got bail three months later.
“I thought ‘How can they do this? What am I going to do?’,” she said.
She packed up and fled the State with her young son.
In 1996, Ms Hellwich and Bodein were living with her mother when she heard a TV bulletin that sent shivers down her spine.
“When I heard ‘Man goes on shooting rampage at Gympie’ I said ‘Mum, That’s Bill. I can feel it’,” she said.
“Not long after that police called me and I had to go into a victim’s protection program.”
Fox had barged into his estranged wife Patricia Atkinson’s home, 30km from Gympie, fatally shooting her in the head.
He also shot at one of his sons and shot his son’s girlfriend in the left shoulder, before killing his son’s mother, then shooting a man, 60, in a nearby farmhouse, before escaping.
He was arrested at a Mt Glorious home, north-west of Brisbane, in 1997 and in 1998 he was found guilty of murder and three counts of attempted murder and jailed for life.
The trial judge said he should not be released until authorities were “as confident as humanly possible”https://www.noosanews.com.au/” that he was no danger to the community.
But an appeal court later ordered those words be removed from the judgment.
Fox was given another life sentence for Ms Hellwich’s attempted murder later that year.
“My life was in turmoil while he was on the run. I lived it every single day, every night. It was driving me crazy. He’s the sort of person who wants to instil fear in people,” she said.
She once received a Christmas card from the fugitive, showing a Santa looking through a window, with the chilling words: Merry Christmas, I’m watching you”https://www.noosanews.com.au/”.
“It was frightening,” she said.
“After six years, I felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders when he was finally jailed.”https://www.noosanews.com.au/”
Ms Hellwich is now desperately trying to get the Parole Board to hear her pleas, as a victim who did not get a say, for Fox to be kept in prison.
She has been told he will be supervised by Caboolture Community Corrections and he is barred from contacting her, but that gives her little comfort.
“He’s a dangerous offender, a violent offender. Why are they taking a risk with a highly dangerous person?,”https://www.noosanews.com.au/” she says.
“Fox does not follow rules, he has no respect for the law or justice system or for those he has victimised.”https://www.noosanews.com.au/”
Originally published as Killer who shot mum as she held toddler about to be released