NOTE: The Press Council partly upheld a complaint about this article. Read the full adjudication here.
THE professional, educated and political establishment of East Fremantle and parts of greater Fremantle are in mourning for Reuben Stack.
The 25-year-old was found dead, believed brutally murdered, in his Moss Street home last Thursday week, May 21.
With police tight-lipped and his extended family going to ground, early reports to Sky News and other electronic media within a few days of the death speculated on an “execution-style” killing, with Mr Stack said to have suffered serious stab wounds and a bullet to his head.
The violent nature of his death has shocked the wider East Fremantle community, where the young man had grown up.
Likewise, the extensive police homicide presence, with Moss Street in front of East Fremantle Football Club completely blocked off, now in its eighth day, is a clear indication of how seriously the police are responding. The surge of police activity was first reported on the Herald’s Facebook site last Thursday evening soon after Mr Stack’s body was discovered by his brother.
The extensive social networks of Reuben Stack’s parents—Judith Kenny, former deputy mayor of East Fremantle who was overseas at the time of the death, and Melville town planner Sean Stack—have withdrawn in stunned silence.
Even while combing through the embers of Mr Stack’s short life and shocking death, all cite a deep and abiding concern for the wellbeing of the family with no-one prepared to talk on the record.
Emerging though is a picture of a “troubled” young man who may have got in too deep in an increasingly violent and unpredictable drug scene which, for him, spun wildly out of control.
There have been reports of sightings of Mr Stack on the streets of Fremantle in circumstances that caused concern about his well-being among family and friends and which are certain to have police viewing closed circuit TV in downtown Fremantle to see who he’d kept company with.
With a paucity of official police comment there has been a huge amount of speculation about what went wrong in Mr Stack’s life for him to have ended up with such a fate. There has been added speculation as to whether a dog-fight for control of the local drug scene may have played a part.
Regardless of the speculation, what is clear from all who knew Reuben Stack is a vivid recall of a freckle-faced, tousle-haired boy—and young man—with a wide-open, engaging grin and a cheeky sense of humour who did not deserve to die as he did.
What leaves people incredulous is just how his life could have ended up this way in the quiet leafy, wealthy suburban streets of East Fremantle.
by ANDREW SMITH