ZODIAC II– The New York Zodiac Killer– What if?

As those who follow me know, I don’t touch much on solved cases. I quest for the solution to many mysteries. True crime holds little interest to me. Pursuit of mystery for the sake of solution does hold great interest. And I think many who follow me here share those sentiments.

But there are benefits to studying some solved cases. They do not really tell you what might be at play in unsolved cases, but they show you potential. They teach you never to rely on any stereotype.

A case in point is the New York Zodiac, also called ZODIAC II. You all know my stance on copycat crime sprees– they are pure folklore. On the surface the crimes of ZODIAC II would seem to disprove that assertion. Yet a study of the case, which is actually one of the most fascinating solved cases, reveals not a copycat of the Zodiac Killer of the Bay Area, but stolen inspiration from a far more exciting folklore surrounding the Zodiac Killer.

Anybody familiar with both crime sprees would know that Seda, the New York Zodiac, was actually far more imaginative and original than the Zodiac Killer. Astrology was a sham and ruse to the real Zodiac, but it was integral to ZODIAC II. I am going to be starting a series of articles here on Seda, approaching the crime spree from an unsolved aspect to show how easy it is to build up a villain into something he is not. Had ZODIAC II gone unsolved, Seda would have committed the No. 1 crime spree in this nation, and he would have been the last to be suspected. Taking the case purely on its clues and not solution may shed light on the world of unsolved serial murders. The truth behind any evil villain is not so impressive after the mask of mystery is removed.

*         *          *

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.

Stalking Mr. Cruel– Q Style

After his kidnapping of and repeated assaults upon 13 year old Nichola Lynas, Mr. Cruel became a household name in Australia. With these 3 accepted attacks, it was clear he was an ongoing menace. To fully appreciate why Melbourne held him in such dread for only 3 attacks it is necessary to understand a few things. Each of the attacks came after an interim of about 1.5 years– the first in August 1987, then the second in December 1988, then the last one discussed was in July 1990.  It didn’t seem he was going to stop, and he didn’t mind waiting for a long time. Melbourne realized he could and would strike again. The citizens braced themselves and waited.

It was still mysterious how he selected his under-aged victims, and this kept people on edge. It must have been done very carefully and over a period of time, so carefully it was unnerving. For his attack on Victim No 2, Sharon Wills, he knew the family kept the key in the front door. He came ready with a tool to push it through and a piece of paper to slip under and catch it and then pull it gently out under the door so he could unlock it.

All of this planning paled compared to the lengths he took to prevent forensic evidence. For his first known attack he wore a nylon windbreaker underneath his clothes.  Bizarre but knowledgeable. And in taking into consideration the vast and unfortunate vault of true crime, quite a bit overkill. Since that time serial rapists and killers have struck without 10 percent as much aforethought taken to preventing evidence and still they escaped into the night. Mr. Cruel was obsessive in details, and in not wanting anything that could lead to him.

Either he was very smart or very dumb.  . . . or he was not an obscure citizen.

Yet he laid down a pattern. It is impossible for anything that acts from volition not to leave a pattern. Let’s start to have a look at that here in hopes of taking the preliminary steps to outing the aptly named villain “Mr. Cruel.”

With his attack on Nichola Lynas, he broke his previous pattern. He ventured far from a highway or main road into the suburban communities of north and east Melbourne where he struck. Monomeath Avenue was so deep within the old grid of city streets in Canterbury he had to park his junker of a car on Chaucer Crescent, walk across Canterbury Road and up Monomeath in order to access the house. Obviously, this prevented him from walking his kidnapped victim back to the parked car. As a result he stole the family’s rental car from the driveway.

Monomeath2

1, Monomeath Avenue; 2, Chaucer Crescent; 3, Canterbury Road.

If Nichola is correct, he now did something strange. Hidden on the floorboard at his orders, she felt that when he pulled out he went in the direction of Mont Albert, turned left and then later turned left again and came to the street where they parked. They got out, walked a little bit and got into his own car.

Mont Albert is in the opposite direction of Chaucer Crescent. He could have simply pulled out on Monomeath, crossed Canterbury and then turned onto Chaucer Crescent and Bob’s your uncle. What was the point of not doing so? Mr. Cruel knew the family car would be found parked on Chaucer Crescent. This would tell the police in general where he had parked his own car. It seems pointless not going there direct.

Monomeath1

1, Monomeath; 2, Mont Albert; 3, Canterbury Road; 4, Chaucer Crescent. That is not a main highway to the south of Chaucer. It is a railroad track.

But the overall area of Chaucer Crescent does indicate he had parked near the park there. Perhaps this is also how he had stalked the area– jogging or biking. (Still, how he had come across Nichola Lynas so that his brain became so heated he had to take the extra risks in this posh neighborhood is unfathomable.) He apparently felt he left no forensic clues in the family car. This reflects his pattern of wearing a unique set of clothes for the occasion of the attack and then destroying them.

He turned up and down many side streets on his way to his secret lair. It took some time, but Nichola finally arrived at the place where she would endure 50 hours of bizarre sexual assaults.  She was able to count the number of jets that flew over and noted they sounded like they were landing in the distance. This suggested to police that Mr. Cruel’s nasty abode was under the flight pattern of the Melbourne International Airport at Tullamarine. More specific than that, however, they could not pinpoint it.

Chaucer Crescent1
Chaucer Crescent– exact location where Mr. Cruel parked is unknown by me.

 

From the description of both girls (Wills; Lynas), the lair was not big. Each knew there was a bedroom, a bathroom, a separate toilette, and a kitchen. The driveway was on the right side of the house, and the house a step up. There was a slider door in the bedroom covered by a full length drape. There was a case in the bedroom that was covered with a towel, indicating something was therein that was a dead giveaway to Mr. Cruel’s identity.

But Nichola gave us more clues than Sharon. When Mr. Cruel led her from the abode to that junker car of his, she said it was about 5 steps on the driveway from the side door, and they went through the kitchen to get to the driveway. Obviously, he didn’t take them to and from the house via the front door, and the side door through which he took them was right off the driveway and this was in the kitchen. There was no garage.

But far more important is one intriguing fact which is implicitly contained herein. It tells us about his front yard. Mr. Cruel did not fear neighbors seeing him lead a blindfolded girl out to his car.

All these are clues on the type of lair and its location on a street.

But there is a bigger picture here that helps us track Mr. Cruel. There is his relatively tight area of catch and release, if you will. He remained within the east and northeast of Melbourne. His attacks on Wills and Lynas, and soon on his final victim, Karmein Chan, will reveal that he used the M3 Highway. He may have driven Wills and Lynas around hither and thither to confuse them as to where they were being taken, but he had no need to do that for his first attack in Lower Plenty. He invaded the home and sexually assaulted the 10 year old victim within the house while her parents were tied up in their bedroom.

Since Mr. Cruel did not need to hide the location of his evil lair here at No 1, he must have taken a fairly direct route to Para and Main Road, near where the house of the victim was situated. The same is true when he returned to his abode. The M3 is no good for getting to and leaving from Lower Plenty. Thus we have more than one route to which Mr. Cruel limited himself. The first was not a highway, and then when wishing to access his next victims further to the southeast of Lower Plenty, he chose the M3.

We now have the clues in place that allow us to narrow down and start looking in a community under the Melbourne airport flight path. But first, we must look at his final attack in our next Mr. Cruel post. More clues will help lead the way.

*         *          *

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.

Mr. Cruel’s 3rd Night Out

It was a warm July, 1990. Mr. Cruel wasn’t national news yet. He was known in the Melbourne area where he had struck two victims, both boldly in alarming circumstance. The first in her own home after having tied up the rest of the family; the second was in the most bizarre and premediated circumstances. He tied up the family at gunpoint and then abducted the 10 year old victim from her own home and took her to his lair where he assaulted her over an 18 hour period, ostensibly filming it in the process. The he drove her to another part of town and dropped her off.

This wasn’t your average creep. This was a Grade A, D Choice creep.

The attacks had come about 1.5 years apart. So it wasn’t like he was a scourge. . . yet.

But he was obviously a very strange and premeditative predator and therefore potentially a very omnipresent menace. The Melbourne Police also realized this jacket job knew his thing. He had excessive zeal in limiting forensic evidence. This was an enormous clue, for it indicated he believed he could be identified by even the slightest clue such as a hair left behind. Nevertheless, he was leaving a pattern. He had struck homes near main thoroughfares. Easy in, easy out, to the communities he stalked in northeast Melbourne.

Although it had been a year and a half since he had last struck, no one on the night of July 3, 1990, would have been expecting an attack on Monomeath Avenue. It was in the heart of the Canterbury area of northeast Melbourne. These were upscale homes in an area hard to stalk. This was an old part of town, with streets cross-crossing in a grid pattern. The other locations had been close to highways and main streets, not deep in a community. There was little way to stalk these streets and blend in.

Toward the center of the long street, far from any easy escape, one of the homes was owned by an English executive of a British company. Tonight was their last night in the home. They were preparing to go back to England. They were moving in closer to town to rent a townhouse for their last month remaining in Australia. They were away tonight. Their daughters Fiona and Nichola were home. Nichola was only 13.

In any case, somehow Mr. Cruel had long stalked young Nichola and entered the house tonight while her parents were away. It was after 11 p.m. He entered the house through the parents’ bedroom window– a sure indication he knew they were not home tonight. The girls had eaten a pizza and were sleeping together in the same bedroom tonight since they were alone.

16ca6d92ab0fb0a5d8f2b9504efb5215
Pretty Nichola Lynas

 

Mr. Cruel crept into the bedroom. With the blunt end of a knife he tapped on Nichola’s head. She awoke to see a man in a ski mask. He wore gloves, and had a gun. He started with his usual lines to keep the girls calm. He said he only wanted money. At gunpoint, they led him around the house to where money was kept. Nevertheless, he didn’t take any, including 4,000 dollars in traveler’s checks.  He led them back to the bedroom and then took out precut clothesline and hogtied Fiona on her stomach. He led Nichola back to the kitchen and took the keys to the family’s rented car.

Then they went to Nichola’s bedroom. Here Mr. Cruel took a number of pieces of her clothes. He told her to dress. He put the extra clothes he took into one of Nichola’s bags. In the hallway he stopped so Fiona could hear his questions. He asked about the father’s employment, and then said he was taking Nichola for 25,000 dollars ransom. He would call later with the instructions. Fiona was obviously to relay this to the parents.

Mr. Cruel then led Nichola out to the family’s car, ordered her onto the floor, then pulled down a cap she wore over her eyes. He drove off.

Fortunately, Fiona had looked up and out the window. He noticed that as the two had walked to the car, with Mr. Cruel’s arm around Nichola’s shoulder, he must have been about 5 foot 8 inches tall.

Another valuable clue follows. Mr. Cruel drove only a short distance. By Nichola’s reckoning he had had turned left onto Mont Albert Road and continued on. Then he parked and blindfolded her with adhesive tape. Then he started and turned onto another street. They stopped and got out and walked a short distance and got in another car. They drove off.

Mr. Cruel drove up and down streets. Nichola was sure it was to fool her on direction and distances. Eventually they came to the lair. He referred to the bedroom, a kitchen, a toilette, and a separate bathroom. He replaced her adhesive tape blindfold with surgical cotton eye pads which he taped to her head.

It was the same routine as with Sharon Wills. Nichola was put in the bed and assaulted off and on over a period of time. Then she was cleaned up, fed old scraps (like bread and water), then assaulted again. After her first assault, she was leashed via some harness around her neck to the headboard of the bed. Then Mr. Cruel fell asleep next to her. One day she was dressed in her tennis outfit and then assaulted. This nut was real kinky.

Nichola too had taken the chance to look through a slit in her blindfolds. She saw the room, the bathroom, and she too heard aircraft passing over. On Wednesday morning she estimated 7 to 9 jets passed over, and they sounded like they were landing. Mr. Cruel played the radio quite a bit, which of course gave Nichola clues as to the time. She had heard the planes, for instance, before 10 a.m.

The difference here and the previous victim, Sharon Wills, was that Mr. Cruel kept Nichola for 50 hours before dropping her off, like Wills, at a different part of town. She had been completely clean and was minus any forensic evidence. This location was within a few miles of her home, on Tennyson Street in Kew. It was 2 a.m. Friday,  her birthday. She eventually got the police and was taken back home.

Several clues exist here that are of value. Nichola was very keen in her observations. We know more about Mr. Cruel’s pad, behavior, and parts of his MO for stalking a victim. We will start to analyze these in our next Mr. Cruel post. The attacks were so brazen, so arrogant, that he was now a household name in Australia. The nation was stunned at how careful this sick pedophile was.

*         *          *

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.

Night 2 of Mr. Cruel– Part II

In continuance of Part I of Night 2 of Mr. Cruel:

Mr. Cruel led 10 year old Sharon Wills into a domicile of sorts, or so it seemed. The entrance was one step up from the driveway, which was on the right side of the residence. Being blindfolded, more than this young Sharon could not discern. But she ended up in a bedroom and was placed upon a bed.

The ordeal to follow is too harrowing for anyone to imagine, but because Sharon was unusually collected and brave we have details. Mr. Cruel switched out her makeshift blindfold for a pair of sleepers and taped them to her head. As she lay there in the bedroom, she heard a bath being run in the adjoining bathroom. He returned and led her to a bathroom and ordered Sharon to bathe and clean her teeth. She could hear a radio on. It was Station 3TT.  When finished, she was led back into the bedroom and placed upon the bed. It was about 7 a.m. We know this because Sharon heard the 7 a.m. news on.

For 18 hours Mr. Cruel kept her in his lair. She remained on the bed, being sexually assaulted from time to time.  After he finished assaulting her, he went out and soon came back with a glass of milk and a stale vegemite sandwich. She ate and drank. When finished he told her he had to go someplace. He leashed her to the bed backboard by a harness around the neck.

Mr. Cruel left.

Despite the warnings that her life didn’t mean squat compared to his identity, Sharon snuck peaks under her blindfold. Gauche would be putting it mildly. The colors of the room were all on the orange to yellow side, including the drapes (possibly covering a glass slider door) and the wall paint color. What stood out the most were two things. There was a wood tripod past the foot of the bed– but no camera on it. Beyond that there was some kind of large cabinet or some piece of furniture covered by a towel in front of it.

So far by this time, Sharon had heard two planes pass over the house.

Mr Cruel--overalls
Like with attack No. 1, Mr. Cruel dressed in a way that left no forensic evidence at the house of the victim.

 

Mr. Cruel finally returned. He unleashed her and took her another bedroom (?) and assaulted her again., Afterward, she again had to go bathe. Then he took her to the main bedroom again and leashed her to the bed. He checked on her frequently. After the last time she was assaulted, he took her to the bathroom again and told her she had to shower and wash her hair this time.

It was time to go. He carefully dressed her with the extra pair of clothes and put a garbage bag on her head. It came down to her waist. She was led out and put on the floorboard of a car. It had trouble starting. Mr. Cruel told her that stolen cars sometimes had trouble starting. He got it started and she could sense they were backing out. He drove both slowly and quickly and finally came to a location and parked. He picked her up and carried her and sat her down when tired. He finally set her down for the last time.

He now told her how to get to a nearby Food Plus store and removed the garbage bag and blindfold. He warned her not to look as he left. She was eventually seen standing at the corner by a motorist and soon returned to her parents. 18 hours had passed. It was the dark of early morning of December 28. Her abductor was gone and had left no clues except how careful he had been.

. . . And this is significant.

One, he made young Sharon bathe first. He wanted her clean for the sexual molesting . . .perhaps . . . but he also didn’t want any forensic evidence from her and her residence being in this bedroom. He made her bathe the other times to remove any forensic evidence he might have left.

As for that covered piece of furniture– there must have been something unique about it or, if a glass case, something unique about what it contained that he feared it could give his identity away. This means he feared, however slightly, the child would sneak a peak.

Yet by contrast the bedroom seemed almost like it was a gaudy anodyne design one would expect in a cheap motel room.

Mr. Cruel was careful indeed. There was no forensic evidence on Sharon. We have only her testimony, largely from sensation, of where she might have been taken, and then we have the brief glimpses of the room and bathroom.

But the overall clues are tantalizing. The clue on the location of this evil lair is provided by the time element between the time Sharon was kidnapped and  when she heard the 7 a.m. news.  It was under an hour and a half from her home. The amount of driving about hither and thither also tells us something: his lair may have been on a fairly direct route with Sharon’s house. Recall, she lived on Hillcrest right by the onramps to major highways. A blindfolded girl could easily detect a direct route. Also, Mr. Cruel must have known the district by Bayswater High School where he had dropped her within miles of her home. He knew he could walk around here in the hours just around midnight with a kid with a garbage bag around her and not be seen. This, too, is a clue as to where he had parked here. It was less developed back then, but he probably parked near trails and park areas.

Bayswater

Top, left, the star indicates Hillcrest Avenue where Sharon was abducted. The star, lower right, marks the area where she was dropped off 18 hours later.

There are a few other things we can deduce. When Mr. Cruel left Sharon alone for the longest, he may have removed the camera and taken the tape to another room to check out the footage. He then later returned and shot the assaults from different angles.

The claim the car was stolen is probably bogus. He wasn’t using a very good car.

The police began to consider he must have lived near the Melbourne Airport, but that is a big area. So big that he must have felt this clue could not betray him. He was so meticulous, even excessively cautious, he must have known the airplanes could be heard overhead.

Most intriguing of all is that piece of furniture he had to cover. If there was something in there you’d think he would just remove it. The piece of furniture must have been very unique. . . . and perhaps this was not a residence but a business made up to be a bedroom for a night or two. A stale sandwich for the girl? Was there nothing better than that in a lived-in house?

These and many other clues must be considered.

*         *          *

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.

Night 2 of “Mr. Cruel”– December 27, 1988

It was bold and highly premeditative. Mr. Cruel had meticulously planned the attack on Hillcrest Avenue in the Ringwood district of Melbourne, Australia. It was an enormous advance over what he had done in Lower Plenty on August 22, 1987. He had planned it for so long he knew that it would ruin this Christmas for his victim and perhaps many to come. But planning an attack to take place only a couple of days after Christmas ensured that his victim would be home.

Somehow he knew of the 10 year old girl, Sharon Wills. He knew her name. Some think it was because it had appeared in the newspaper about 6 months before, due to a report about a fire in their residence. But that can’t explain how he knew everything else. Somehow he had learned the routines of the household. He knew the father kept the front door key in the lock on the inside of the door. Mr. Cruel ingeniously figured out what to do. He brought paper and a device to gain entry, and he had prepared himself what to do inside.

For this attack was going to be very different from his first attack. He intended to kidnap the small, underage daughter and take her with him. His intent was to hide her in his home, in a specially prepared room, and there sexually assault her while filming it on camera.

Though Attack No. 2 was far quite different, Mr. Cruel was laying down a stalking pattern. Left, above, an overhead of Para and Main, Lower Plenty, Melbourne. The house is near a park and the main roads. Right, Hillcrest Avenue, Ringwood, Melbourne. The house was on a street next to a web of highways and their on- and off- ramps. Both areas were easy to access, surveille, and easy to escape.

Unlike other abductors who kidnapped kids and kept them stashed in a basement for months or even years in order to have one when they wanted to abuse them, he did not want the responsibility of feeding one and taking care of them for a long time. He wanted his own short thrill. Nothing more. He had to carefully work out how to make himself, the girl, and the surroundings so anodyne that no forensic evidence could be traced to him.  He intended to do his “thing” and then return her.

This is indeed a cold, calculating, arrogant and selfish mind. But one who had the self assurance and knowledge to get away with it.

In his first attack there was something about his outfit that seemed disposable. It was clothes that didn’t seem congruous– a sport blazer, tight denim jeans, basic running sneakers . . .and underneath a waterproof nylon windbreaker. Every bit of this outfit could simply have been recently purchased at a thrift store and then worn for the attack and then discarded.

For this night, Mr. Cruel selected blue overalls, gloves and a blue ski mask.

Mr Cruel--overalls

The attack had long been planned, but it must have almost seemed foiled. The night of December 26, 1988, the family returned home from shopping– the parents and their 4 daughters. They ate and went to bed. All 4 girls slept in the same room in a set of two bunk beds. Sharon Wills slept quietly with her sisters. But in the master bedroom the father, John, couldn’t sleep. He got up around 2 a.m. and started working on a jigsaw puzzle. About 10 minutes to 5 a.m. he finally turned off the light and went to bed.

Clad in his blue denim overalls, Mr. Cruel must have been watching, having waited who knows how long. Now he would have checked his watch and waited an appropriate period of time. In this case, about 30 minutes. He crept up to the house, to the front door. He slipped newspaper under the door and then pushed the key through the lock and it dropped onto the paper. He gently pulled the paper under the door. He wanted this kid badly. He unlocked the door and entered.

Mr. Cruel had no idea if one of the parents was still awake. The light had only been out about 30 minutes. Dawn was also coming soon. He wasted no time. He burst into the master bedroom. The parents bolted up. Julie, the mother, screamed, but Mr. Cruel put a gun to her head and told her to shut up. He then put the gun to John’s head: “You’re not going to be a hero, are you?” At his orders they rolled onto their stomachs.

The false clues began. As he viciously tied their wrists together with copper wire he demanded to know where John’s wallet was. John nodded to his pants. Greedily pulling out the cash, Mr. Cruel then he demanded the location of Julie’s purse. Curiously, he asked the location of the telephone. He left the room to go get the purse. He would then cut the phone wire. John and Julie were sure that they were only being robbed, but they worried over their 4 girls.

The house was silent for a while until they heard a scream from one of their daughters. This is what had happened:

Sharon had awakened when hearing her mother scream, but she had remained in bed. Now the door to their bedroom opened and man in a ski mask peaked in behind the blinding ray of a flashlight. She acted like she was asleep. He crept up to her and she could hear him breathing. He rolled her over and asked if she was awake. She continued to feign she was sleeping.

95d80289bd36cf80562ca0aa00ac09bb
Sharon was only 10 years old.

 

He left the room and quietly closed the door. What was up with this? He had called her by name?

Soon he quietly returned and shook her. “Wake up, get up.” She knew she had to awake. He called her by name again and made her get up. He went through her wardrobe and selected another complete set of clothes.

They went into  the living room. Mr. Cruel took one of her father’s shirts and wrapped her clothes in it. He also took his coat hanging nearby and made Sharon wear it over her nightie. They then took her to the back porch of the house. Here Sharon screamed, but he shoved a rubber ball in her mouth. He was quite prepared. He didn’t remove it until she agreed not to scream. He blindfolded her and put some kind of material over her head.

The predator was careful. From what Sharon could detect, the man picked her up and walked around to the driveway and then down a ways. He put her down, then he picked her up again and appeared to have changed directions. Soon they were at his car. He had been calming her by telling her that he wasn’t going to hurt her and he was going to send her parents a ransom note. As soon as the banks opened and he got the money, she would be released.

Hillcrest-overhead2

Hillcrest Avenue. The house is next to a corner lot. How did Mr. Cruel scope the area to begin with? He must have been lurking in the backyard. That power pylon corridor is interesting.  Where had he parked?

He set her down on the front passenger side and told her to get down. They traveled for some time and then he stopped. He asked Sharon if she could see, and she said yes.  He then used tape to blindfold her better and threw a blanket on top of her. They drove some more and she finally felt the car bounce up a driveway. Then it stopped. He got out, came around, opened the side door, and picked her up and led her one step up into a house.

The real nightmare was about to begin, but little Sharon was very brave and collected. She was making mental notes.

Continued in Part 2.

*         *          *

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.

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.

 

MrCruel3

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.

MrCruel2

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?

 

 

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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.

Australia’s Mr. Cruel

Home invaders are a particular brand of evil villain. That’s because it never ends there and it never begins there. These swine make it plain to their victims that they had stalked them for a while. So Home Invasion of this sort is not spontaneous. It indicates a hideous stalker had staked them out for some time.  Of course, there is more purpose to their home invasion than simply invading the house and violating their home life. The victims soon learn that rape, terror, torture, kidnapping, perhaps even murder is the ultimate intent. If it isn’t, the home invader makes it apparent there is that potential.

EAR/ONS perhaps is the most infamous there ever was. But he is not the most mysterious. He was so prolific that his MO was detectable. There is no mystery how he selected his ultimate victims.  But there are others whose crime sprees need a spotlight on them so that more information (and clues!) can be gleaned.

One of these is NORCAL Rapist, a rather dramatic Phantom of the Opera style rapist, who hid behind theatrical or Halloween masks and engaged in theatrics with his victims, aside from taunting them.  How his selected his victims is still a mystery. More information is desperately needed.

The same can be said for what is ultimately one of the cruelest home invaders. This is Australia’s Mr Cruel, aptly so dubbed by the Press because he learned much of his victims and their house before invading it. He then bound the family members and, in his first attack, raped the under-aged daughter on the premises. He assailed them behind the cover of a ski mask, and he always had a gun and a butcher’s knife.

MrCruel3

At his first known strike off Para Road in Melbourne’s suburban area of Lower Plenty, he pointed the gun at the father while he was in bed and warned him at gunpoint: “Do you feel brave?” The warning was implicit– just try and challenge him. This attack was on August  22, 1987.

From here, it escalated. After stalking his next victim, invading the house, he then kidnapped the young, under-age daughter. This attack was on December 27, 1988, on Hillcrest Avenue in the Ringwood subdivision.

Mr. Cruel let her go 18 hours later to be picked up by police and then her family. In the interim he had taken her to his lair and sexually assaulted her, apparently videotaping it. He washed her up and had the forethought to have taken a second set of clothing for her to wear after he had finished with her. This means she picked up very few forensic clues to her tragic ordeal. He was very careful.

Again, he struck on July 3, 1990. The parents were gone and this left him with only sisters to contend with. He tied the eldest and took the youngest to his lair. He kept her for 50 hours, drove her miles from her home and dropped her off, wrapped in green garbage bags. She too had been washed, and without her clothes there was very little for the police to use forensically to trace where she had been.

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The 3rd victim, Nicola Lynas, taken from her Monomeath Ave. home in the Canterbury subdivision. It is one of the most premeditated attacks.

 

The only real clue they had was that she, like the previous victim, said they could hear planes landing. The Melbourne police deduced his lair was in the approach path to Melbourne Airport.

Then, waiting quite a long time again, Mr. Cruel struck on April 13, 1991, in the Templestowe subdivision of Melbourne on Serpells Road.  He locked up the two youngest daughters in a cupboard and kidnapped the eldest, 13 year old Karmein Chan. Like in the earlier attacks, he left false clues. Noticeably in this case, he spray-painted one of the family cars (the parents were away at their popular Chinese restaurant) indicating this was payback for the parents being Chinese drug lords, which they were not.

Unlike the previous victims, Karmein would not be returned. A year later her remains were found in a shallow grave miles away. She had been shot in the back of the head 3 times, execution style.  The police surmise she had actually gotten a look at Mr. Cruel, and for this she had to die. He had warned one of his victims that death awaited if she saw him. He obviously had meant it.

After this, Mr. Cruel never struck again. Police thought that in the enormous dragnet that followed, they must have interviewed him and this frightened him. The Mr. Cruel crimes are perhaps Australia’s most infamous unsolved cold case.

In a series of posts we are going to examine this crime spree in detail. We have a very clever and arrogant villain to deal with here. So confident was he that he became incredibly elaborate. He not only meticulously stalked and planned his attacks, he took on whole families, then kidnapped the victim, assaulted her on camera for hours at his pleasure, then made sure there was no evidence to trace her to his lair and to him. It is not surprising that Melbourne Police never found his trail. They have only the surmise that they had interviewed him, and a few other clues two of the victims were able to relate about his lair.

We will examine all of this as these posts unfold.

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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.