Tracker Teddy Egan Jangala skills have been used by Police in Central Australia on a number of occasions to track offenders. He was used as early as 1967 to track Billy Benn, who according to McLaren was a former tracker, but also a murderer at Harts Range. Billy Benn was later acquitted of murder on the grounds of insanity and in a strange twist of fate he became a famous artist and the 34th winner of Central Australia's most prestigious art award, the national Alice Prize, for this landscape work, inspired by country around Harts Range.
Tracker Teddy Egan continued assisting Police track offenders as detailed below in this 2001 Police Drum Article by Gavin Gleeson and as late as July 2001 when he was used to assist a search in the disappearance of Peter Falconio, a murder case that attracted world attention.
Footprints Leads to Escapee by Gavin Gleeson
All police tracker Teddy Egan needed was a single footprint to help catch an alleged murderer who escaped from custody in November.
Teddy said finding an escapee was easy after locating a size eight footprint in the dirt. “He couldn’t find water,” said Teddy. “Too much sun…I told Police he’s barefoot and walking between the fence line and the road.” A short time later the 20-year-old man, who three days earlier had escaped from prison guards at the Alice Springs Courthouse, was back in custody. Teddy Egan was born during World War Two at Coniston, north-west of Alice Springs.
Although many of his family were trackers, his mother taught him the skills. Teddy said tracking a human being was easier than tracking kangaroos, dingoes or snakes.
“People make too much mess and end up sitting in the shade” he said. After three days of searching scrubland, including the use of trail bikes and a helicopter, police were unable to recapture the man.
On Saturday the 11 November, officers acting on sightings of the man along Larapinta Drive, near Standley Chasm, 42 kilometres west of Alice Springs. An area to confine the search was nominated and a call for Teddy’s assistance was made.
The day marked a milestone for Teddy: his first ride in a helicopter. “The wind was blowing too much,” laughed Teddy who was equipped with a feed of Kentucky Fried Chicken and water. “Once we left the ground it was alright.” Teddy’s account of the ride conflicts with one eye witness though. “He was holding onto anything could, even his toes were curled,” said Acting Superintendent Rob Farmer.
Teddy is famed for the legendary capture of Billy Benn in 1967. On 5 August, Benn ran into the bush after shooting a man at Harts Range. The next day, Sergenat Len Cossons of Alice Springs and Lake Nash Constable Blake Jobberns were wounded after being shot by Benn while they were searching a nearby range.
Following the shootings, Teddy Egan joined reinforcements from Alice Springs in conducting a 13 day search, which culminated in him arresting Benn.
Billy Benn was found not guilty of the murder on the grounds of insanity. Teddy has recorded many of his tracking techniques on video and his son Derek from Yuendemu is planning to teach Yirrara College students how to track next year.