Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Who was Linda Agostini?

While there are fictional elements in this dramatization of the Pyjama Girl mystery, it is based on true events, facts, and people.

I’ve put together these biographies from a variety of sources, including research by Richard Evans, Bruce Pennay, Alec Morgan, and Robert Coleman, as well as interviews, old newspaper articles and court documents.
Linda Platt, 1930. State Records of NSW.

Florence Linda Platt was born in London in 1905. She disappeared in 1934 and in 1944 was officially identified as the murder victim who, until that point, had been known only as the Pyjama Girl. 

By all accounts, Linda was very independent, particularly for the times. She operated a sweets and tobacco business as a young woman and then, after a failed romance, moved across the world, first to New Zealand, then to Australia.

Linda trained as a hairdresser and worked on cruise ships for a while. When she settled in Sydney she got a job working as a cinema usherette for Hoyts. She met Antonio Agostini in Sydney and married him in 1930. 

There has been some speculation that Linda had a drinking problem and was an aggressive drunk—but this perhaps was just a tactic by Tony Agostini’s lawyer to make Tony seem more sympathetic during the trial. There is no real evidence that Linda had a drinking problem.

We do know that Linda had an independent streak and her family remembers her as hot tempered. She was also very sweet – she writes in her letters or nursing a sick pet canary back to health, and of Tony buying her a Pomeranian pup that had run away. Linda herself disappeared just days after her dog. 

Much has been made of Linda’s physical performance and the similarity with the pyjama girl. Linda has peculiar ears, freckles, brown eyes, a long nose, nice teeth and light brown hair. She was probably rather glamorous and well put together. The striking difference is that Linda had brown eyes but the bogy of the girl found in the culvert had blue eyes. Linda’s dental records at first did not line up with the dental work of the Pyjama Girl, although later, were found to be a match by the third dental examiner appointed to the case. The first two were not asked to testify at the final inquest.

Linda was artistic, which seems to be a family trait. She sold her first artwork at the age of 13, according to her niece Jeane, who is mentioned in one of the letters. Linda’s great-great-niece Rhiannon, now in her 20s, also sold her first artwork when she was just 13. 

Linda never had children, but still has relatives living in England and New Zealand. Some of them consider the case closed, and accept that Linda was the pyjama girl, murdered by her husband. Others wonder if this was so, but doubt that with the passage of time, they will ever find closure. 

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