Academic’s new prison life after she was charged with attempted murder

  • Lisa Lines, 43, awaiting extradition to Australia
  • She is currently detained in Palau’s Koror prison 
  • Officials have lifted the lid on her demands in jail 


An Australian academic arrested in the Pacific Islands over an alleged love triangle murder plot is ‘crying a lot’, refusing to leave her cell to exercise and consoling herself by reading the Bible. 

Mother-of-two Dr Lisa Lines, 43, was arrested on an outstanding Interpol warrant in the stunning island nation of Palau, north of Indonesia, last Friday over an alleged murder attempt on her ex-partner Jonathon Hawtin, 36, in 2017. 

Her former lover, Zacharia Josef Bruckner, 36, was arrested days later in Queensland and charged with attempting to murder Hawtin with an axe in an alleged attack which left him a quadriplegic.  

Dr Lines, who has PhDs in history and creative writing, left Australia in 2020 with the two children she shares with Mr Hawtin, relocating to Taiwan – which does not have an extradition treaty with Australia. 

She was arrested in Palau last week, on the 4km-long island of Koror which has a population of about 18,000, and prison sources have now opened up about her life on the inside.

Australian academic Dr Lisa Lines was arrested last week in the tiny Pacific archipelago of Palau two years after she vanished following an alleged attack that left her ex-partner a quadriplegic

Koror (pictured) is among one of more than 340 islands in the archipelago of Palau

Dr Lisa Lines, 43, is being held on tiny 4km-long Koror, a lonely speck of land making up part of the Palau archipelago, population 18,024, lying 1,000km east of the Philippines and 1,000km north of Indonesia in the western Pacific Ocean

Palau Bureau of Public Safety acting director Rickley Antonio told Daily Mail Australia that Dr Lines was being held in isolation under 24/7 guard in Koror Jail amid concerns for her safety.

Mr Antonio said she’s having trouble adjusting to the prison environment and there were fears she could self-harm.

‘The first couple of days she was crying a lot,’ he said.

‘She was not comfortable. She looked sad and depressed at times.’

Mr Antonio said the mother-of-two was staying in the juvenile ward, right next to an officer’s desk, so she could be constantly monitored.

While isolation is a normal procedure for inmates detained at the jail on a temporary basis, Mr Antonio said this was the jail’s first extradition on his watch and authorities are keen to ensure everything runs smoothly.

‘We don[‘t allow [her to have] contact with any other inmates,’ he said.

‘We keep her away from anybody else, except from police who are nearby in case she needs anything. We make sure no inmates go past her cell. 

‘We just want to make sure there are no issues.’ 

Mr Antonio described Dr Lines’ cell contained a bed, bathroom facilities, and a 45cm x 45cm window. 

She has also been given a fan to keep her cool during the warm, humid nights. 

Mr Antonio said Dr Lines has been giving prison wardens cash to purchase her supplies because she doesn’t like the food which includes pancakes, eggs, chicken, vegetables and fish. 

One guard had been asked to purchase a bottle of Coke, Mr Antonio said, while others bought vegetarian food for her because she doesn’t eat meat.

Mr Antonio said it was ‘unusual’ to have prisoners requesting food outside of the jail during their stay, but they want to ensure Dr Lines is ‘comfortable’.

She is being kept in Koror Jail (pictured) while she awaits extradition to Australia

She is being kept in a cell with a bed and bathroom facilities, officials say

Dr Lines is pictured arriving at the prison last week

While prisoners are allowed time outside to get fresh air once every hour, Mr Antonio said Dr Lines has chosen to stay inside her room. 

‘She asked for a Bible, so she has been reading that,’ he said.

‘Two days ago, she was stressed, so she asked to see a doctor. She asked the doctor for medication related to anxiety and depression.

‘We always think about prisoners’ mental health so we are keeping an eye on her. She seems pretty good at the moment.’ 

Aside from hourly stints outside, prisoners’ daily routine includes three meal breaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with inmates back in the cells by 6pm.

Some prisoners are permitted to perform cleaning duties to pass the time while other well-behaved inmates are allowed to take part in wood-carving sessions in the jail’s hall. 

Mr Antonio said it remained unclear how long Dr Lines will remain at the prison before she is extradited, but he is on standby awaiting further orders which could come at any moment.

Dr Lines, who ran an academic editing business, has been charged over the alleged axe attack on Mr Hawtin in 2017.

She has also been charged with allegedly attempting to murder Mr Hawtin at Lightsview in January 2018 and an alleged plot to murder him between December 2019 and August 2022.

Bruckner, her 36-year-old former lodger and secret lover, was arrested last Wednesday on a warrant for attempted murder and two counts of conspiracy to murder in South Australia.

The arrests follow the re-investigation of an attack on Mr Hawtin, 30, at a property in the Adelaide Hills in 2017.

Mr Hawtin was struck repeatedly on the neck and head with an axe, suffering devastating injuries including paralysis in all four limbs.

He is permanently confined to a wheelchair and requires round-the-clock care.

Bruckner was found at the scene suffering a gunshot wound which Mr Hawtin was accused of inflicting after learning he had started a relationship with Dr Lines.

Jonathon Hawtin (pictured) the father of Dr Lines's children, was left paralysed from the neck down and is now permanently confined to a wheelchair and requires round-the-clock care after an alleged axe attack in 2017

Zacharia Josef Bruckner allegedly shot himself to create a case of self-defence after he attacked his secret lover Lisa Lines' ex-partner Jonathon Hawtin with an axe and left him quadriplegic, a court has heard

Mr Hawtin was found in a pool of blood outside her home at Littlehampton alongside Mr Bruckner. A bloodied hatchet (above) was found at the home

Mr Hawtin, who denied shooting Bruckner, was charged with attempted murder but acquitted after a trial in the Supreme Court of South Australia in 2019.

Police now allege Bruckner shot himself to establish a case of self-defence after he and Dr Lines tried to kill Mr Hawtin.

Bruckner appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday when detectives from Adelaide sought his extradition to South Australia.

Prosecutor Eddie Fraser told the court police had gathered evidence that Dr Lines coerced Mr Bruckner into trying to murder Mr Hawtin with a hatchet, according to Adelaide Now.

Mr Hawtin, the father of Dr Lines’s children, was found in a pool of blood outside her home at Littlehampton alongside Mr Bruckner.

Mr Fraser said police would allege Dr Lines made another attempt at killing Mr Hawtin by asking a female friend to smother him while he was recovering from the axe attack in hospital.

‘The female was stopped by hospital security guards outside Hawtin’s room before she fled the scene,’ Mr Fraser told the court.

He said Bruckner and Dr Lines had conspired to murder Mr Hawtin and his mother Rohnda with a hitman ‘between December 2021 and the present day’.

Mr Fraser alleged Bruckner had told a person ‘known to police’ he had struck Mr Hawtin with a hatchet and did not think he would survive.

‘Bruckner then shot himself in the hip to create a self-defence case,’ he said.

‘Bruckner explained that Lines entered the garage upon hearing the gunshot, Lines then called Triple Zero and whilst on the phone in the garage Hawtin made a noise so Bruckner struck him two further times with the hatchet.’

The court heard Bruckner, who did not appear in court on Wednesday, had been employed by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

He did not oppose the extradition application, which was granted by magistrate Rosemary Gilbert, and is due to appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court on Friday.

Bruckner had been living with and working for Dr Lines prior to the axe attack on Mr Hawtin, from whom she had split three months earlier.

Lisa Lines's onetime lover Zacharia Josef Bruckner is pictured on Friday arriving at Adelaide Airport escorted by detectives after being extradited from Queensland

She was a witness at Mr Hawtin’s 2019 trial.

During the four-week hearing, it emerged Dr Lines wanted to separate from Mr Hawtin in June 2017, and two months later she started a relationship with Bruckner.

She denied wanting Mr Hawtin ‘out of the picture’ to avoid ongoing shared custody of their children. Dr Lines was no longer dated Bruckner either, she said at the trial.

Dr Lines also refuted suggestions she was then involved in a relationship with a woman she met on a dating app.

The Supreme Court heard Mr Hawtin went to his ex-partner’s home to show Bruckner his gun collection before allegedly shooting him with a rifle.

The court was told Mr Hawtin suspected Bruckner had been having an affair with Dr Lines after he had been living with the couple for ‘years’.

The couple insisted they did not begin a sexual relationship until August 2017 and believed they had kept it secret prior to the attack in October.

South Australia Police Major Crime Investigation Branch launched a review into the case in 2020 and revealed in 2021 that Dr Lines had vanished overseas with her children.

A warrant for her arrest was issued in August 2022 and detectives used overseas police and federal authorities to track Dr Lines down to her remote Pacific hideaway home.


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