Night 1 of “Mr. Cruel”

An inaccurate title at best. The nights that this sadistic perpetrator struck his victims weere not the only night of his evil. He was a home invader. He was not a spontaneous home invader either. He had carefully assessed his victims beforehand. He violated their privacy for many nights. He was an arrogant mind with evil intent behind fogged windows, an eye peering from behind many bushes. He had learned their schedules and habits. One might say he knew the neighborhood as well. He had reconnoitered the property. He had rehearsed his actions prior to the attack. He had rehearsed his escape. He had planned carefully that he would leave no forensic trace.  Mr. Cruel unleashed his cruelty on a single night, at least on this his first attack.

It was a summer early morning August 22, 1987, in Lower Plenty, Melbourne, Australia’s, northeastern suburb. Para Road was a main road into the residential district, off Main Road itself. Near the intersection of these major roads, a man in a light blue balaclava ski mask crept through a house’s yard and up to the living room window. With his long, kitchen style carving knife he worked out a pane of glass in the window, reached in, and opened it. He put the knife away and set his small canvas carrying bag on the floor.  He drew a small, black automatic pistol, picked up his bag, and crept silently to the master bedroom.

Here he awoke the startled parents. The father’s eyes flashed with resistance. The intruder pointed the small pistol at him. “Do you feel brave?” he gruffly challenged. The parents acquiesced to his demands to roll over onto their stomachs. He handcuffed both of them, wrists and ankles.  “Be quiet and don’t move or I’ll hurt someone.”

The masked man then crept into the room of the 7 year old son and brought him to the master bedroom. He bound him to the bed.

Then he entered the room of the daughter, a mere 11 years old.  He took her to the master bedroom and bound her next to the others.

He calmed the family by telling them that he just wanted to rob them. “All I want is money, food and clothes. How much money is in the house?” The father said only a couple of hundred dollars. The intruder then asked the father his clothes size, saying they looked the same size as each other. He also wanted to shower and shave. He also wanted the first aid kit.

He uncuffed the parents and tied them with nylon cord, and put the handcuffs back into his bag. The children remained tied with nylon cord. He gagged them all with electrical tape. Then he blindfolded the children that way.

He then removed articles of clothes from the closet and then shoved the parents therein. “Get into the wardrobe and sit down.”  After they did, he covered them with a blanket.

He then tried to make a phone call with the master bedroom phone, but he got no answer.  He wandered the house. They could hear him in the other rooms. Then he returned and phoned again. He apparently got someone on the other end, for he started talking. He made threats and called the other person a ‘bozo.’

Finished with the call, he closed the closet door and locked it. He left the room and then soon returned with a radio. He turned it up so the parents and the son could not hear him raping the 11 year old daughter in the nearby bathroom.  They merely thought he was taking the shower he had needed.

After he was finished, he told her to bathe and “Clean your teeth.” He then led her into the kitchen where he helped himself to a morning meal of leftover lamb, biscuits, milk and orange juice.

Now refreshed, he took the daughter into the living room and sexually assaulted her on the couch. In what manner we do not know, but it obviously did not require she bathe afterward.

She heard him leave the room and go check on her family. About 10 minutes later she heard him return. He picked her up, led her to a spare room and then tied her ankles with nylon cord. “I’m going out now so count to one hundred slowly; then you can free your parents.”

He left the room. Shortly thereafter she heard the front door close. She got free and released her parents.

The father had to go shout and wake up his neighbors, for the phone would not work. Later it was discovered that the phone line had been cut outside.

Taken on its own at face value, this case suggested a spontaneous action to the police. Yet many things didn’t fit. The perpetrator was well prepared with handcuffs and nylon ropes. He knew how many were in the house. He even had a sequence planned out on how to use them– the cuffs first to temporarily bind the parents and then nylon rope when the entire family was secured before him. Cuffs might be traceable, but the nylon rope wasn’t. He had a bag and the sufficient gear to pull off his attack– including some shears to cut the phone line.

But when did he do that? First or afterward? None of the family heard anybody speaking on the other end of the phone. He certainly couldn’t have been talking to anybody if he had cut the line first.

It really is of some importance. If he cut the line first, then all what he did in the house was an act. This seems to fit, since it was obviously a well-planned attack. If he cut the line afterward, then it would merely mean he needed some time to get away, and this was buying him that time.

Obviously, he got away. So this wasn’t a transient who needed a bath and some clothes. He must have had a car nearby.

Altogether it does seem like his actions in the house were an elaborate performance and he had cut the line first. His object all along appears to have been the pedophile rape of the 11 year old daughter. It was, in fact, a well planned attack, and his actions and words were designed to throw the police off his scent. He knew to have the victim bathe and remove any forensic evidence against him.  Strangely, he had worn some nylon blue windbreaker under his sport jacket. Not a shirt, a disposable waterproof jacket. Everything he wore over this apparently was disposable and any forensic clues those clothes may have left he felt could not be traced to him. The waterproof jacket protected his body from leaving clues.

This was a careful thinker.

The masked perpetrator had tried to sound quite uninformed. He had asked the girl: “What’s your name? How old are you?” She told him her name, but he wrongly called her “Kate” later, which was not her name, and repeated this several times.

Yet everything else suggested a very confident villain who had carefully planned his attack. So confident he had spent an hour or so in the house, helped himself to a meal, and casually left as dawn was breaking.

A theory was put forward that the culprit was an obsessive pedophile who had seen the daughter’s picture in the paper a few days before. The family had been featured in the local paper. Given how premeditated the attack was, and apparently how knowledgeable the villain was about evidence, we will see how  unlikely this scenario is as the crime spree develops before us.

The perp was an Australian between 5 foot 8 inches and 6 foot tall, medium to slim build, possibly in his middle 20s; oval face, soft hands, possibly right-handed.

But how much was the rest of his appearance a performance? Hair seemed brown-grayish/white with white spots in it. He may have had dandruff, and his hair hung out somewhat from under the balaclava. His eyebrows were bushy and also grayish/white.  His voice seemed gruff, somewhat deep. There was a nervous tenor to it. He sounded uneducated. He had bad breath, described as “musty”– however we are to take that. He had a couple of days beard growth.



The artist’s work above is based on the family’s descriptions of the man who would later be dubbed “Mr. Cruel.”

Despite the sound of a gruff, transient thief that he had cultivated, his clothes were in good condition– close fitting blue denim jeans, brown tweed sports jacket, a blue nylon waterproofed zip up jacket, strangely underneath it, and his tennis shoes were “blue runners with white flashes down the side, white soles in good condition.” His socks were white cotton.” His balaclava was somehow adjusted by him with some kind of material to cover his eyes like a visor, since balaclavas are open-faced ski masks. His gloves looked and felt like dishwashing gloves and were the same yellow in appearance.


A basic light blue balaclava with a strange improvised visor.

So there were things about him that seemed very prepared, but others things which suggested he was home-tailoring them. There was no real similar MO like this in the police records. But, in addition to the rape, had robbed the family of several items. Perhaps it was a one-time incident?

. . .Yet it remained a worrisome example of someone who went to great lengths, and thus it seemed very premeditated.

In evidence of this is the list of items he used. As the Herald Sun tallied them: “Small black handgun, pistol type. Knife, kitchen, black handle, silver blade about 20cm long. At least four sets of handcuffs. Nylon coated cord, white and red/white. Electrical tape, adhesive, roll of red, roll of green and roll of blue. Elastoplast. Material bag, dark bluish/grey or light grey colour, similar to school library bag.”

How long had this nut planned this attack, and would he strike again?



*         *          *

Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.

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