Jammies of mystery

Death mask made of Pyjama Girl by police officer Cecil Jardine c1938.

In 1934 a young woman was found dead and badly burned in a water culvert on the New South Wales and Victoria border in Australia.  She was dressed yellow pajamas or if you rather pyjamas.  She was known as Pyjama Girl for ten years before she was identified.  They searched dental records, made a

New evidence in 1939 after draining a lake near Albury included gumboots, shoes, slippers, a blouse and parts of a silk dress.

death mask and even soaked her body in formalin and put her on public display in hopes of finding who she was.  Eventually they claimed the victim was Linda Agostini.  Her husband, Antonio Agostini, confessed to the murder and the dental records were said to match.  He served a scant six years for the crime of manslaughter and then was deported back to Italy where he lived until his death in 1968.   All would seem, after a lengthy time, to be over.  If only the color of the eyes, the shape of the nose and the bust size of the victim matched those of Linda Agostini.

Linda Agostini

If the dental records weren’t faulty we could perhaps believe the stars had at last aligned and put this ten-year mystery to bed.  But author Richard Evans documents these inconsistencies in his book The Pyjama Girl Mystery. Who was pyjama girl?  Linda Agostini, a flapper, a drinker and perhaps a women with questionable sexual morals.  It seems like an answer that the public, at the time, would be comfortable with.  Pyjamas were thought to be worn by flappers who were believed to lead wild lives of drink and debauchery.  The social climate promoted the idea that gin and sin would certainly end in a tragic fashion.  The fate of Pyjama Girl became a cautionary tale.  To many, a girl who wore pyjamas and came to no good end, got just what she deserved.  Who the fallen girl in Chinese silk pyjamas was had no definitive answer.  There are news reels that give you a feel of the atmosphere at the time. Was it the missing Anna Philomena Morgan?   Her mother and doctor identified the body.  She was never found and was one of the strongest candidates to be the unknown girl in the pyjamas.  Was it another girl altogether?   All we know for certain is that in 1944 the body of Pyjama Girl was finally given a proper burial.  When Antonio Agostini was asked to pay for the funeral expenses he refused stating, “. . . she was not my wife”.  Deepening the mystery of not only who the girl in the yellow silk pyjamas really was but what happened to Linda Agostini’s body.  All those involved in the intrigue, real and imagined, are now as silent as the young girl who was brutally murdered and tossed aside in 1934.  They are, however, saved the indignity of being on public display or maybe in a sense the Richard Evans book evens that score.

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