Did Bill kill Haden?
1. Bill put his arm around the shoulders of Haden’s mother, looked her in the eye and told her that he didn’t shoot Haden. She believed him.
2. Bill said the same thing regarding Haden’s death in his interrogations and in his trial. The prosecution was unable to weaken his testimony or to expose him telling a lie. It is extremely difficult for a person who isn’t a habitual liar to maintain that level of consistency.
3. Bill stated to the investigators and to the court that he told Haden at the end of their heart-to-heart talk in the early hours of Thursday 21 April 1932 that, in the morning, Haden would have to tell Chubbie that he lied to her or that Bill would do so himself. Bill later said that he was exhausted from his tiring flight and soon fell asleep, knowing with absolute certainty that Chubbie and Haden’s relationship was over. He knew Chubbie well enough to know that she wouldn’t forgive Haden for his lies, as he later told the court. And she didn’t, as she herself revealed to the court.
4. If this heart-to-heart talk actually happened, as seems likely (see post 7), Bill had no reason to shoot Haden. He had every reason to wait and see what the morning would bring. While Bill could do stupid things, like stunting and terrifying his passengers or people on the ground, he was extremely calm under pressure. It was the only reason he was still alive. He wasn’t the type of person to snap and act irrationally.
5. Bill seemed like the type of personal who would sacrifice himself as a gesture of nobility. He was willing to kill himself to give Chubbie money to start her marriage.
6. Bill also behaved in such a way in the past . In February 1928, when he and Chubbie were stranded in Singapore after the Red Rose crashed, they heard that Bert Hinkler was racing towards them. If Hinkler reached Australia before them, he would set the record and gain all the associated money and glory, shattering Bill’s and Chubbie’s dream. What did Bill do? His friends wanted to sabotage Hinkler’s plane but Bill sat beside the plane all night armed with a gun in order to protect it. The result? Hinkler is now second on the list of well-known names in early Australian aviation history, beaten only by Charles Kingsford Smith.
7. When Bill chose not to destroy his aviator rival, even though he knew that the consequences of Hinkler’s success would be personally devastating, he acted nobly. If Bill acted as nobly with Haden, it would explain Haden’s alleged final words of praise and contrition: ‘Bill, you are the whitest man I know.’
The preponderance of evidence suggests that Bill did not kill Haden. Moreover, Bill showed no evidence of being the type of person who could commit murder, even when the result would be the loss of something that mattered to him.
Yet there is still the problem of the gunshot entrance in the ‘wrong place’. But that could be explained by the fact that the ‘wrong’ place was an easier shot.