"Mr Cruel" Breakthrough over the murder of Karmein Chan- updated april 2012

UPDATE 12/04/12

Up to 20 men were suspected of being Mr Cruel, and one prime suspect still lives

David Sprague, then head of Operation Spectrum, with a poster of Mr Cruel victims Sharon Wills, Nicola Lynas and Karmein Chan.

Are Police closing in on Mr Cruel,  a Killer and serial paedophile?

Police searching for clues in the hunt for Mr Cruel

In the final of our three-part special into Mr Cruel, Keith Moor asks what we know about a man who is the monster hiding in the shadows.THERE was a glimmer of hope in 2010 when a new Mr Cruel suspect was nominated and a task-force formed to investigate what seemed like strong information.

While the new information was from a reliable source – and the suspect nominated may end up being charged with other offences – the task-force has now ruled him out of being the long sought after Mr Cruel.

And while similarities between the Mr Cruel cases and last year’s disappearance of 13-year-old Siriyakorn “Bung” Siriboon have been examined, detectives don’t believe it was Mr Cruel who took her. 


Part One: Mr Cruel a meticulous predator say police

Part Two: Mr Cruel suspected of at least a dozen attacks

‘Unlikely Mr Cruel took schoolgirl Bung’

Mr Cruel still on most-wanted list

Karmein Chan’s body was found 20 years ago

Detectives involved in the Operation Spectrum taskforce which originally hunted Mr Cruel have, over the years, indicated they had a short list of about 20 suspects, of which six were stronger than the others, that they had been unable to eliminate.

They have consistently shied away from saying they think they know who Mr Cruel is.

But in a 2003 interview with the Herald Sun, former Spectrum chief David Sprague said his personal view was that there was one man above all others who he believes might be Mr Cruel – that man is still alive.

“There is a prime suspect. We interviewed him for about 14 hours. He said at the end of it that if we thought we had a good case we should charge him and if not he wanted to be let go then and there,” Commander Sprague said.

“It was a good circumstantial case, but not good enough to charge him. We have certainly kept tabs on him since and if we had another abduction he’d be the first person dragged in.”

Police traditionally hold back items of information about crimes so they can use them to eliminate suspects. One reason is that attention seekers often wrongly confess to high-profile crimes. Such people might think they know everything about a crime, having read everything that was written, but police are able to weed them out when they don’t know as much as police do about, for example, the wounds suffered by a victim.

Detectives know a number of things about Mr Cruel that have never been made public. They have used this inside knowledge to eliminate more than 27,000 suspects, including the man nominated in 2010 as possibly being Mr Cruel.

But the prime suspect nominated by Commander Sprague has not been able to be eliminated. He fits both the public and secret profiles of Mr Cruel.

Serial sexual predators like Mr Cruel don’t usually stop offending until they are caught or die. Yet there is no evidence that Mr Cruel has stepped out of line since he killed Karmein Chan in 1991.

Commander Sprague believes the reason Mr Cruel hasn’t struck again is because he was one of the thousands of men interviewed by Operation Spectrum. “I honestly think we got very, very close and scared the crap out of him. So close that he stopped,” he said.

Other former Spectrum detectives disagree with Commander Sprague that this man is above all other suspects, but they don’t disagree that he is well deserving of his place on the top 20 list of possible perpetrators.

One thing all Spectrum detectives agree on is that they don’t like the Mr Cruel tag given to the kidnapper by the media. They feared it would create the impression he was a monster when he probably conducted himself as a normal, everyday person.

Former Operation Spectrum member Steve Fontana, who took over from Commander Sprague as head of the Mr Cruel taskforce and who is now a Victoria Police assistant commissioner, said Mr Cruel would appear anything but cruel to those who know him.

“He’s very intelligent and probably comes across as being a reasonable sort of person. He is very talented and will be very meticulous in the way he goes about things,” Mr Fontana told the Herald Sun.

Operation Spectrum detectives, already working long hours, were swamped with information from a shocked public after news of Karmein’s murder broke in 1991. But none of it helped identify Mr Cruel.

“His crimes were very much premeditated,” Mr Fontana said. “He wore a balaclava, always wore gloves, he always made sure the girls were blindfolded the whole time.

“I won’t go into other things that he did, but there were certain things, like with Sharon Wills, she was wrapped in plastic garbage bags before she was dropped off. I think it gives you an indication that this person was really thinking about not leaving any traces behind.”

Mr Fontana said it was very difficult to commit the sort of crimes Mr Cruel did without leaving physical evidence – yet Mr Cruel managed it.

“You have to give it a lot of thought. He’s gone to great lengths to conceal his identity and that has been maintained for the duration of those girls being held captive,” he said.

Commander Sprague is sure Mr Cruel has been convicted of lesser offences in the past.

“We are convinced he’s been done before, probably for flashing or being a Peeping Tom or something similar,” he said.

“He has learned from being caught and that’s why he was so worried about leaving any forensic evidence and went to such extremes to ensure he didn’t leave anything that would identify him.”

Police were desperate for public help to crack the case

After many hours interviewing victims and consulting police experts – some from the FBI – Operation Spectrum detectives produced a profile of Mr Cruel.

This is what they know or suspect about Mr Cruel, his habits and the house in which he held some of his victims:

  • He used the phrases Bozo, Worry Wort and Missy and had an Australian accent with no definable class or characteristic.
  • Victims described him as aged between 30 and 50, from 173cm to 180cm tall, possibly with fair to sandy coloured hair and eyebrows and sometimes sporting a gingery beard. He had a slim to medium build, with a small pot belly.

Sharon Wills was one of Mr Cruel's victims, and gave crucial clues police still hope will crack the case.

Sharon Wills and Nicola Lynas, and almost certainly Karmein Chan, were kept in a dwelling under the Tullamarine flight paths, probably in an area close to the airport such as Coburg, Strathmore, Keilor, Plenty, McLeod or Watsonia. This house, unit or flat had a drive on its right-hand side and a small number of steps.

The girls were occasionally able to bravely sneak a look inside the house, despite warnings not to remove their blindfolds. One described the bedroom she was kept in as having beige or cream carpet, peach full-length curtains, double bed with peach bedhead, orange lamp base, lemon lampshade with thin white vertical stripes, light walls and a white door.

A dark blanket covered a bookcase or cabinet at the opposite end of the room from the bed, possibly to hide identifiable possessions.

The bathroom had a bath, a triple-sliding door to the shower and a washbasin adjacent to the shower door. You had to get past the basin to get into the shower. The dual flush toilet was very near the bathroom.

Mr Cruel had access to firearms and was sometimes armed with a 35cm kitchen knife.

The profile suggests Mr Cruel was probably in steady employment, possibly in a management job or self-employed, with freedom of movement.

Those who know him would not regard him as a monster. He would probably be considered a good neighbour and may be involved in community projects.

He has an obsessive, compulsive character – the type who would immediately wipe his hands if soiled. He took a great deal of interest in media coverage, though he probably tried to disguise it. He goes for unexplained drives or walks.

He has expressed sexual fantasies or shown sexually dysfunctional behaviour. His sexual arousal and gratification is probably dependent on his partner playing specific roles, such as dressing like a schoolgirl in uniform.

Mr Cruel could be married or living with a woman who goes away around school holidays, when some of the attacks occurred. He is intelligent and well-organised. He will seem genuinely interested in and dedicated to children. He gets satisfaction from the way things look, rather than their use.

He will have displayed behavioural changes about the time of the offences and on anniversaries or when publicity is renewed. Changes such as sleeping disorders, reluctance to go to work, distraction or different eating and drinking habits. He would disguise his stress with abnormally rigid behaviour. He told some of his victims he was a victim of sexual assault as a child.

Police stress that profiling is not an exact science and anybody who suspects somebody they know might by Mr Cruel should not discount him just because he doesn’t fit the profile – they should pick up the phone and contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

[email protected]

An image of Mr Cruel's bedroom as described by his victims.


John and Phyllis Chan plead for public help at the time of Karmein's abduction. Her mother holds what she was wearing when she was taken.

Police examine the scene where Karmein Chan's body was found.


Mr Cruel's bathroom from a sketch as described by one of his victims.UPDATE 12.14pm: POLICE have revealed a potential breakthrough in the hunt for a notorious child rapist and killer came after they trawled through 12,000 pieces of evidence.

The man is wanted over the murder of Karmein Chan and attacks on other girls.

The Herald Sun can reveal a covert police operation codenamed Taskforce Apollo has been closing in on the man, who was identified as a result of new intelligence unearthed by detectives working on the case.

The information was uncovered during a review of the original Operation Spectrum – the largest investigation in Victoria’s history – and intelligence gathered since it closed in 1994.

Mr Cruel – considered a serial paedophile – terrorised Melbourne families in the late 1980s and early ’90s. His last suspected crime was the killing of Karmein Chan, who was abducted from her Templestowe home as she babysat her sisters on April 13, 1991.

Her remains were found at Edgars Creek, Thomastown, a year later. She had been shot three times in the head.

Karmein’s mother, Phyllis, has kept in regular contact with police during the 20-year hunt for her daughter’s killer.

“I really want the case solved,” she said last night.

Mr Cruel is wanted over attacks on at least three other girls, and is believed to have attacked up to 12 children over 10 years dating back to 1985.

Victoria Police Supt Doug Fryer last night told the Herald Sun: “We do have people of interest who were not previously identified.

“All avenues of investigation from 20 years ago are being followed as well as new information.””We are not forecasting an imminent arrest but we are investigating and will continue to do so,” Supt Fryer said.

“We still have not finished.”

After having interviewed 27,000 people in the biggest investigation in Victoria’s history, investigators revisited a huge stockpile of evidence.

Superintendent Fryer said substantial new intelligence had warranted the establishment of a new taskforce to explore “every avenue” of inquiry he told ABC Radio.

While Supt Fryer would not give details he said a covert investigation had been running for some time.

Today he revealed more than 12,000 separate pieces of information had been reviewed and cross-referenced with new details as part of the investigation.

And retired detective Colin McLaren, who led the original Spectrum taskforce investigation into Mr Cruel, said the case was the one that still lingered two decades later.

“I probably don’t know of any other more important case that I’ve worked on that still is unsolved,” he said.

“This strikes at the heart of most parents if not everybody in the community.”

Police have not ruled out the possibility Mr Cruel had since fled the country, died or committed suicide.

The profile of Mr Cruel that investigators narrowed down was of a man with few distinguishing features.

Police have not revealed whether the new suspect fits a different description to that issued in the early 90s.

But at that time detectives built a picture of a man aged between 35 and late 40s, slightly built, with sandy or ginger-coloured hair, clean shaven, softly spoken and “quite caring in his own monstrous way”.

The man would now be close to 60 years of age.

“He was very much like a man in the street, that was the most difficult thing about it,” Mr McLaren said.

“We weren’t looking for someone who was six foot six or someone who perhaps had a peculiar smell about him.

“He was just very normal.”

Police believe there are still people in the community with information that could help them solve the case.

“This is one of the most horrendous crimes in Victoria’s history and all new information will be investigated.”

It is not known if Mr Cruel’s other victims or their families have been told of the new probe.

Mr Cruel, who was initially labelled Mr Cool, struck fear into families across the nation because of his meticulous approach to crime.

He was dubbed Mr Cruel by a journalist.

Police believe he would film or photograph his abductees after one of the victims told detectives she could recall a camera mounted on a tripod at the end of the bed to which she was shackled by a neck brace.

Victims told investigators he would bathe them and was careful not to leave behind any DNA or fingerprints.

More than 30,000 houses were examined as part of Operation Spectrum.

Police believe Mr Cruel attacked 12 children over 10 years, dating back to 1985.

He often used the terms “Bozo”, “Worry Wart” and “Missy” to his victims.

It was thought he may have taken his victims to a house that was on a flight path after one recalled the sound of jet planes flying overhead.

Profiling in the 1990s suggested Mr Cruel was intelligent, well organised, steadily employed and potentially involved in community projects.

One suspect was interviewed for 14 hours before being released.

A $300,000 reward exists for information that leads to a conviction.

Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000

55 thoughts on “"Mr Cruel" Breakthrough over the murder of Karmein Chan- updated april 2012

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention “Mr Cruel” Breakthrough over the murder of Karmein Chan « Aussie Criminals and Crooks -- Topsy.com

  2. They have to get this piece of shit, it’s been too long, and to be honest I live in the North East where he prowled and fear for my kids safety knowing the shit is still alive and free.


  3. Does anyone remember the bathroom drawing one of the kids had seen? there’s a block of flats in Northcote (Waterloo street) with exact design, and not far from the PANC hospital where he apparently worked….


  4. That’s interesting BJ. Where did you learn he worked at PANC hospital? One of those bloody psychic TV shows? Or inside info? :-)


  5. There was talk many years ago it could have been Ashley Coulston (the Burwood triple murderer). He had a similar modus operandi to Mr. Cruel (and the same hair color). But there was nothing further to this, so it must be someone else. I have a sneaking suspicion Mr Cruel is a doctor. One of the detectives on the original taskforce reckons he had a medical background. And there is a doctor who was investigated by police for accessing child porn about 18 months ago, around the time “substantial new intelligence” came to light and the case was reopened.


    • It is quite an intriguing case, and if you are like me, I feel ill thinking that Mr.Cruel is still out there (assuming he is still alive) and even worse that somebody must know something about him. I takes massive amounts of inner strength to stop the urge to kill, once you have done it, for long periods of time.

      The urge inside these animals never leaves them, and I think old age or illness has curbed his activities. Lets hope he is bought to justice before he gets the easy way out and drops dead.


  6. We know that he released the other girls because they did what he demanded of them. The police thought Karmein might have seen his face or been able to identify him. He may have murdered her for self-preservation rather than anger. Mr. Cruel had much more self-control than, say, a Peter Dupas, who couldn’t contain his rage for more than a few days each time they let him out of jail. I reckon he stopped because, after Karmein, he thought it wasn’t worth it anymore, too risky. I just hope the police weren’t bullshitting when they said there was a breakthrough last year.


    • Were the cops bullshitting?he knew forensics…….. Was he a cop?…………..was he a blue collar worker?he’s not a doctor. He was driven, intelligent ,but could have been a non achiever in work. Or could have been a high achiever..Did he have friends who disclosed forensics knowledge unwittingly?.his hair colour could have been seen in a brush or on wash hand basin but been someone who lived at house not necessarily his it could have been dyed.he was a fit for eloise worledge.he didn’t stop at kamein.he didn’t kill from anger or pleasure.he wanted his freedom.wanted to be able to travel.killed to cover his tracks but killer he definately is.no frontal lobe inhibitions.his real sexual interest is purely directed at kids 8-13.he’s nasty to boys.someone probably has narrowed him down to one of two.both stalkers…..he’s still prowling.wants no witnesses talking.he’s very capable of killing again!


  7. I don’t think the cops were bullshitting Lana. They would have loved to catch him. But he covered his tracks too well. The cops on the original Spectrum taskforce worked day and night, around the clock trying to catch Mr. Cruel. But he was just too good. What I’d love to know is: what is the new evidence they supposedly uncovered last year? Has he since slipped up? Or has the case gone cold again? Why haven’t we read anything more in the papers for the past six months? Lana, I agree with you that he didn’t kill from anger. My guess is that he didn’t want to kill Karmein. She might have given him a bit more of a fight than the other girls did. And when he did kill her, he might have finally realised the gravity of what he’d been doing – hence no more abductions.


    • Two new suspects came to police attention via intelligence.first suspect and probably dismissed at the time mid 2009 then march 2010 second suspect combined with one previous year was just too compelling to dismiss as bizarre.


  8. Attention………mr cruel. …………….you will be caught.you were a lousy stalker.which c..nt you are remains to be seen though.and in my opinion kamein was not the last.


  9. Yeah, the girls said he sounded late twenties / early thirties, so that’d put him in his fifties today. He still has another 15 or 20 years – hopefully behind bars.


    • Time to haul him in don’t you think?he’s one of two.if there is forensic evidence as bob fontana states then its An easy outcome.


  10. Hi spin,
    That’s a good question. You’ll often hear Mr. Cruel referred to as the ‘Hampton Rapist’. But times have changed. Police now believe Mr. Cruel’s first offence in Victoria was in 1987. They also believe he was responsible for three abductions, between 1988 and 1991. All up, police think Mr. Cruel has committed a total of four crimes in Victoria.

    Personally, I don’t believe Mr. Cruel was responsible for Eloise’s abduction. For one thing, Eloise was only eight at the time she went missing. Mr. Cruel’s four known victims were aged 12, 11, 14 and 13.

    Can I ask why you believe Mr. Cruel is responsible for Jonbenet’s murder? I’m interested.


  11. Sherlock Holmes says: Thanks for replying. I’ll abbreviate Mr. Cruel as “MC”

    I’ve been reading up on MC as a true crime sleuth. I know of the canonical 4 (surprised their names have been published) but my sources also state he was responsible for up to 12:
    http://www.crimenet.org/show_unsolved.phtml?id=81&sid= “Police believe Mr Cruel was responsible for as many as 12 attacks on children over at least a 10-year period.” I’ve never heard much about these 12 attacks. What were the facts of these other 12 attacks and ages?

    Eloise seems to fit the profile, disappeared at night with family present. MC is a pedophile so I don’t think Eloise being 8 is much of a deterrent. In fact, I think Eloise is what set him on the path the leads to the dark side. He may have selected the targets not based on age, but based on factors like location and the fact those girls would not recognize him from daily life, etc.

    I’ve looked at a variety of crimes on children, from the Babysitter killer to the Atlanta child killings to the alphabet murders to Amy Mihaljevic. MC stands alone as an evil genius and criminal mastermind in the complexity of his plans, the level of planning, Most crimes against children appear to be crimes of opportunity. Most criminal masterminds are bank robbers interested in money. I think there is substantial overlap between MC’s MO and the facts of Jonbenet murder.


    • He just spent his recreational time planning out his attacks.he would have chosen girls away from his place of residence.but would have been around his favoured attack areas frequently leading up to committing crimes.I think he was. Simply a planner.he was breaking in through sliding doors windows double hung the sort that he could have got in and locked up again so as to not alert owners.ifeel he examined peoples lives personal effects bills photos got their names read their mail totally invaded their homes….probably pretended he oived there in his head…..like a voyeur….he was extremely lonely. ……..he was playing out a role with these children he attacked.


  12. I believe the reason for publishing the names of three of Mr. Cruel’s four victims was because the girls were missing. Police were asking the public to help find them, so they had to identify them. The first victim (who was not abducted) was not identified.

    The other attacks you refer to all occurred prior to 1987. The victims varied widely in age. And one was a boy. Some were attacked in their homes, while others were snatched from the street. And there were other differences, including the weapons used. In other words, the attacks were not consistent. This may be why the police later concluded that there was more than one offender.

    Yes, some aspects of Eloise’s disappearance fit the profile — but others don’t. In the four “known” Mr. Cruel attacks, he always tied up the parents and/or siblings and locked them in a cupboard. But Eloise’s parents and brother were left alone. So we have also have a difference in modus operandi, too. It is possible it was Mr. Cruel, but I wouldn’t want to place a bet on it.

    Yes, Mr. Cruel is one of a kind. I think that’s what drew me to the case. But we need to remember there were many sexual offenders on the loose in Melbourne the late 1980’s – it won’t all be the work on one man, as evil as he was!


  13. Sherlock,
    thanks for explaining why the 3 names were published. I infer from my research that they do not have semen or even Touch DNA from the UNSUB. The first victim I infer was sexually assault in her own home, yet no DNA? Was she also washed/bathed in her own home.

    Is this there any online resource for these 12 attacks? Do they have DNA or trace evidence from them? Reasonable inference. I find it somewhat difficult to believe that the first of the 4 canonical were MC’s first pedophile crime, if only b/c he shows sophistication. Even bank robbers often “apprentice” with other career criminals to learn the tricks of the trade.

    Regarding Eloise, and partially related to preceding paragraph, FBI profiler and criminal behavior analysis has written an article “Even Killers Improve With Age Experience Brings Sophistication to Their Methods” http://www.johndouglasmindhunter.com/articles/030208.php “Older criminals have learned from their mistakes. They’ve had time to take a look back” In addition to learning from “mistakes” and improving on them, other aspects of offender behavioral psychology includes the desire to change MO to throw off investigators and circumstances/opportunity. I think that Eloise’s disappearance has some things in common with Jonbenet.When you combine Eloise with the first attack on the girl (who was not abducted) with MC graffiti “payback Asian drug dealer” in Karmein Chan you get the Jonbenet crime.

    I’ve heard some posters claim Karmein Chan was NOT a victim of MC. She was a hit from the Asian Triad or something like that. I’ve heard it averred that she was shot from behind and MC does not kill his victims. Her dad had heavy drug debts. She was shot from a distance b/c MC does not like to kill children. I believe Chan was MC, and that the way he executed the crime shows increasing sophistication. I think the reason she was shot in the head from behind was to reinforce the “Asian Triad” motiff, not b/c he loves children and could barely bring himself to do it.

    What are good online resources on MC? Most criminals I’ve heard about that show MC level of planning are bank robbers/art jewelry heist. If there were multiple serial offender in this time frame, why is it that they say Chan was his fourth and final known victim?

    I think MC is one of a kind, and I think that he is one of the very few child-killers I know of with the sophistication and foresight to plan a Jonbenet style killing, with some changes in MO so as to not make it too obvious. I think he is a criminal mastermind.


    • In regards to the first attack (1987), details are few. What was published is that he locked up the parents. He then telephoned a man called Bozo and threatened to kill him. He also made himself a meal in the kitchen. And, before leaving, he stole a box of classical music records. I agree, that this attack does seem very ambitious for a first offence. And these guys usually start out as peeping toms or whatever, and work their way up. That thought had crossed my mind too.

      Personally, I highly doubt the “drug dealer” theory. Why would criminals bother to write anti-Asian graffiti if they were themselves (presumably) Asian? The police looked into Karmein’s father’s background and found him to be financially stable. And Karmein’s sisters said the man had an Australian accent. Police believed the most likely theory was that Karmein was shot because she saw Mr. Cruel’s face. If he let her go, she would be able to identify him. He killed her to cover his tracks. There were many Mr. Cruel hallmarks about this attack – the timing, climbing through the window, big carving knife, locking victims in the cupboard, car parked well out of sight, etc.

      One of the investigators is quoted as saying Mr. Cruel was very careful to not leave behind any body samples, biological or otherwise, in his attacks.

      I don’t know of online resources. I do have softcopies of a lot of newspaper articles from the late 80’s/early 90’s period. If you would find them useful, just let me know.


  14. I got the impression that “Bozo” was what he called the little girl victims along with missy and worry wort. In that first attack I thought he also sexually assaulted the girl in their house. Kinda odd that he would make himself a meal, given how thorough his MO is in covering his tracks and not leaving forensic evidence. Also increases amount of time he spent. This “first” attack does sound ambitious for a first-timer. Stole a box of classical music records. Odd. I wonder if they have any monetary value. So obviously he washed up the girl and tied her up, with her family also tied up.

    Are there any details about the 12 attacks prior? i.e age of victim, etc. In Foxtel’s Crime Investigation Australia, many of the featured criminals took girls as crimes of opportunity from Anita Cobby to Sian Kingli to Bega schoolgirls. I would imagine Mr. Cruel also took girls off the street when opportunity presented themselves, and when they dried up, he also planned home invasions.

    I also doubt the drug dealer theory. For a statement there’s this page

    07/04/2010, 10:05 AM
    “With regard to the Karmein Chan case, I have spoken to a number of police, both serving and retired, about the police’s theories. No one in the police force believed for a second that the man who took Nicola and Sharon also took Karmein. Karmein was a triad hit due to her father’s drug debts. It was hoped the publicity around the case would lead to tips about the other kidnapper (Mr Cruel).

    I found this very hard to believe at first, because I felt that the police would have to be very irresponsible to be so misleading. Thousands of parents in my area were terrified for their daughters for a long time because there was a killer on the loose targeting young girls. However, according to the police, this was never the case. The man who took Nicola and Sharon was not a murderer. A terrible sexual predator, but not someone who shot girls execution style.”

    “ETA: Mr. Cruel used to gain trust by appearing & dressing up as an old lady. ”


    Mr Cruel wasn’t responsible for Karmein Chan. Although it was thought he was at first.

    I’ve heard that to. There wasn’t much evidence in the Eloise Worledge kidnapping, except a screen that was cut from the inside. I wonder if this, like the graffiti on Chan, was meant to mislead investigators.

    Do these posters know what they’re talking about? Other posters have claimed the investigators knew Mr. Cruel was a medical health worker but didn’t have enough evidence to charge him, etc.

    I infer that when Mr. Cruel enters a house, in those 4 instances, he “woke up” the family.


  15. Yes, you’re right – he did sexually assault the first victim. I was just adding some other bits and pieces around that. I believe he wiped the benchtops after making the sandwich. The records were a very rare recording, which might suggest a knowledge of classical music. He was in the house for a long time – around two hours. He woke up the victims in the first three attacks. In the last known attack (Karmein) the girls were still awake, watching TV. They encountred him in the hallway.

    If the police didn’t think Mr. Cruel took Karmein, why was a massive task force set up to find Mr. Cruel immediately after her abduction? At a cost of $4 million? Why would the Police Minister say that catching Mr. Cruel was the force’s “number one priority”? Of course they think it was him. And about him not being a killer – he may not have *wanted* to kill Karmein, but he may have had no choice if she had seen his face.

    Snatching kids off the streets is a high risk crime, because the perp can’t drive around the suburbs wearing a balaclava. If the child should struggle and break free — and this often happens — he/she may be able to give police a good description of the man’s face. Was Mr. Cruel too cautious for such a thing? I believe he was.

    The medico theory, I think, is based on a few minor details – he sometimes used surgical tape and a cervical collar. Therefore, this theory goes, he must be a doctor! But one could argue that because he sometimes wore overalls, he was a tradesman! And so on. I don’t think they knew for certain what his occupation was.


  16. If they are a rare recording I wondered if he had hoped he could sell them, or where they for his own personal enjoyment? It strikes me as odd that he felt he needed to eat in the victim’s home, of all places. I get the impression he was waiting a very long time for the right time to strike, which made him very hungry. My research tells me he always attacked at night, on school holidays (with suggestions he works for a school) with family present. Highly unusual.

    I wonder if those posters have a good faith basis to believe it was indeed an Asian drug-hit as opposed to being racists against immigrants. I think that Cruel learned some important lessons from this case, namely that it maybe partially possible to mislead investigators with writings done before the crime.

    Do you know any specifics of the other 12? Perhaps he snatched the kids and then killed them and dumped their bodies. Were there any suspicious child deaths? He could wear a partial disguise like a wig, or dress like a woman and makeup. One of the mysteries surrounding the Babysitter killer is just exactly how the UNSUB intercepted and abducted 4 children in apparently broad daylight with no signs to outsiders of any obvious struggle.

    For that matter do you know any details about Eloise Worledge? I know the prevailing theory is that Eloise had a pre-arranged agreement with her abductor, and that it was someone she knew and felt she could trust. This was based on the fact that it appears that in the middle of the night she just walked out the front door. If that’s true, then have all those close to Eloise been interviewed?

    I didn’t realize those details. Taking the classical music seems highly unusual. I wonder if he knew they were there, or if it was just an opportunity. I’ve thought that part of his “surveillance” was that he entered the house at an earlier time, preceding his crime, when the family was away, to get a feel of the layout and account for family and their habits. The problem is why didn’t he take the classical music at an earlier time. Were anything stolen from the other 3?

    Medico theory I can see as attempting to assume too much based on too little info. I’ve heard the complexity of Karmein Chan’s getaway. That only someone who worked in the factory adjacent to her house or the lot across from her house would have the familiarity with the area to park his car, enter near Chan’s house, abduct Chan, and then leave in a secluded area. This information was partially pieced together by scent dogs. Can you elaborate?


  17. This is a disturbed man who is classed as a ‘gentleman rapist’ (sometimes called ‘power reassurance rapist’). This type of rapist is not naturally violent towards his victims. In fact, they often want to please their victims. In their crazy minds, they think they love the victim. With this in mind, I’d venture he may have prepared a meal for himself and the young girl — as if they were in a relationship of some sort. While in the house, he may have browsed the family’s record collection looking for something to play. And found ‘Classical Gold’. Police appealed sometime later for anyone who had aquired ‘Classical Gold’ to contact them. But nothing was to come of it.

    He stole money in the first two offences.

    The timing of the attacks was always at night — as early as 9pm or as late as 6am. They were on, or around, school holidays — although that may be coincidental.

    I have often wondered whether he may have entered their homes prior to the attacks to learn the layout. He seemed to know where he was going, especially in the first abduction: he entered the victim’s bedroom, whispering her name to wake her — while her three sisters were sleeping the *same* room. He then snatched her without waking the other three. But I digress. I tend to think he only entered the homes at the times of the attacks, as nobody seemed to notice anything missing or any signs of forced entry.

    In regards to the Chan getaway, it’s consistent with the other attacks and straightforward enough. As with the other cases, he would always park his car a safe distance from the house. Near the Chan’s house, there was an overgrown, vacant block — a logical choice. The line the sniffer dogs picked up — from the bedroom, through the kitchen, across the tennis courts and down onto the street — was the shortest way back to his car. He’s visually-oriented, so he can ‘see’ or visualise these things before he does them. I actually think the getaway in the third attack was the more complicated: he stole the *family’s* car (from their driveway) to drive the girl to *his* car which was parked several streets away. And, all this while the parents were out at a party. Very well planned.

    I do have some specifics regarding the ‘disputed’ attacks, which I’ll post next.


  18. Here’s some snippets from an old newspaper article which links Mr. Cruel to other attacks (which are now disputed):

    Police hunt for Mr. “Cruel”

    A POLICE task force has been set up to hunt a rapist described by police as “super cool and super cruel”. They believe one man is responsible for at least three vicious rapes in Melbourne’s suburbs in the past two years. The rapist’s latest victims are an 11-year-old girl and a 48-year-old woman.
    The most recent attack happened in Moonee Ponds last week. On that occasion a man broke into a 48-year-old woman’s home, threatened her with a knife, bound and gagged her and then raped her.
    He then stole her plastic banking card and went to a bank in Moonee Ponds, where he withdrew $300 from her automatic teller account. The man then returned to the house and sexually assaulted the terrified woman again before leaving in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.

    Sen-Sgt Tatter said police believe the same man was responsible for the rape of an 11-year-old girl in her Lower Plenty home in August.
    Sen-Sgt Tatter said the Lower Plenty attack was “a virtual blueprint” of the rape of a 35-year-old woman in her home at Donvale on December 6, 1985, by a man armed with a long-barrelled handgun.
    In all three cases the rapist has worn a balaclava or hood and fold, bound and gagged his victims, before assaulting them and stealing money.


  19. At this point you’ve demonstrated a knowledge of Mr. Cruel that has surpassed my resources. For example, http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/the-hunt-for-mr-cruel-20101214-18wtw.html and http://www.crimenet.org/show_unsolved.phtml?id=81&sid= make no mention of classical music being stolen. In US profiling is seen as an “authority” although it does not meet the Daubert standard for admissibility of expert testimony. Movies like Silence of the Lambs makes it seems like profilers are all-knowing. Regarding your typing of Mr. Cruel, there is a substantial literature on offender profiling, Executive summary:


    Taking Stock of Criminal Profiling: A Narrative Review and Meta-Analysis
    “The use of criminal profiling (CP) in criminal investigations has continued to increase despite scant empirical evidence that it is effective.”

    Brent Turvey “Of the nearly 4,000 claims studied [by criminal profilers], nearly 80% were unsubstantiated. That is, they contained no grounds, warrant, backing or rebuttal. Moreover, less than 31% of the claims were falsifiable… only 25% of statements in profiles were inferences about offender characteristics’

    Even though the paper convincingly argues the potential importance of CP in law enforcement it concludes by conceding there is a need for a ‘careful, systematic evaluation of profiling advice’. It would seem that 3200 unsubstantiated claims about unknown offenders is rather hit and miss, basically what might be expected from chance and much like the guess work of a psychic detective (Joe Nickell, 1994).

    Turvey goes on to explain that according to the court, the profiler ‘acknowledged that his analysis involves some degree of speculation, and he further negated the sufficiency of his own analysis when he conceded that each case is ‘unique’ and that criminals are often driven by any number of motives’. Perhaps a reason for such a lack of support from this scientific study and the court is the range of false dichotomies drawn from a crime scene pertaining to an offender. One such dichotomy can be found in the Holmes and Holmes typology of crime scenes, the organized/​disorganized typology in serial Murder;
    ‘The crime scene is also very disorganized. In this respect, the crime scene reflects the personality of the killer… The method of murder for the power/​control type of killer is described as ‘simple and organized”
    (Holmes, R.M. & Holmes, S.T. 1998)
    According to Jackson and Bekerian (1998) such a dichotomy is widely accepted,pointing out that many countries and organizations such as the FBI, Canada, U.K and the Netherlands use the organized/​disorganized typology as a theoretical tool at the heart of offender profiling. However, a 2004 study An Empirical Test of the Holmes and Holmes Serial Murder Typology) of such a typology shows there seems to be little evidence supporting any interpretations of the concepts and theories underlying such an ambiguous twofold model. It further details a study aimed at the etiology of serial killing sating this typology ‘provides no indication at all there is a dichotomy that might relate to how organized or disorganized the offender is’ (Stone, 2000). Stone’s paper shows once again that a careful evaluation of profiling advice must be central to the field of CP if it is to be taken as a legitimate science. Along with that, the definition of disorganized and organized is too arbitrary and subjective; it could mean anything to anyone. The link that Holmes and Holmes propose ignores the multiple points between these two extremes, hence the false dichotomy. Instead what they have is better described as a spectrum of possibilities and the very inferential nature of this spectrum makes it difficult to assign personality traits so readily to a crime scene.

    FBI profiles are based on the assumption that there is a pattern where in fact there is none. The assumption is that facts about the crime will match up with facts about the criminal. The Liverpool psychologists tested this hypothesis:

    the Liverpool group selected a hundred stranger rapes in the United Kingdom, classifying them according to twenty-eight variables, such as whether a disguise was worn, whether compliments were given, whether there was binding, gagging, or blindfolding, whether there was apologizing or the theft of personal property, and so on. They then looked at whether the patterns in the crimes corresponded to attributes of the criminals—like age, type of employment, ethnicity, level of education, marital status, number of prior convictions, type of prior convictions, and drug use. Were rapists who bind, gag, and blindfold more like one another than they were like rapists who, say, compliment and apologize? The answer is no—not even slightly.*

    As one vocal critic of FBI profiling, Brent Turvey, put it: “The fact is that different offenders can exhibit the same behaviors for completely different reasons.”* Turvey supports a method of profiling known as Behavioural Evidence Analysis, which is not discussed here or in Gladwell’s article. “You’ve got a rapist who attacks a woman in the park and pulls her shirt up over her face,” says Turvey. “Why? What does that mean? There are ten different things it could mean. It could mean he doesn’t want to see her. It could mean he doesn’t want her to see him. It could mean he wants to see her breasts, he wants to imagine someone else, he wants to incapacitate her arms—all of those are possibilities.

    The last remark shows the “problematic” aspects of interpreting crime scenes. I think the idea of a romantic dinner is a novel perspective, but it could also be he was really hungry. He might have wanted a romantic dinner but he isn’t ‘gentleman rapist’ but that it was done to mislead and confuse investigators. I.e he doesn’t want investigators to think the news report of the rapist in your follow up post is the same perp as him.

    Stole money, interesting. Timing of attacks could be coincidental, or it could somehow fit his plan or his regular day job.

    Thanks for that description of him entering room and not waking up the other sisters. How did he know her name? She obviously did not recognize him. He *could* have abducted her while the family remained sleeping. Why did he wake up the family? I still think he may have “cased” the house, even if he didn’t take anything so he could make adjustments in his plan.

    From what I read, I got the impression that his getaway in the fourth attack required highly specialized knowledge of the area. He’s obviously visually oriented, but that doesn’t rule out other skills and resourcefulness. He seems meticulously detailed, oriented such as spreading a sheet across the floor to prevent footprints.

    The third attack sounds interesting. So if the parents were away, was the girl alone in the house? Siblings? How can I get more details on all 4 attacks? You’ve included a lot I’ve not seen like the Gold Classical and whisper girl’s name, etc.

    The 3 cases you describe do sound like Mr. Cruel even if the ages of 2 are much older. Is there any reason to think he’s not? They don’t have semen or DNA from the 3 attacks you describe?
    Then there’s the theft of money. He sounds like a combination of a hot prowl home-invading burglar and opportunist rapist.


        • The appeal was published in an article in The Sun in 1988. It quoted an investigator who asked for anyone who had recently acquired these records to contact Crimestoppers. I don’t know if it was published in any other newspapers or outside Victoria.


  20. I wonder if anyone called up?? If any names were mentioned that turned out to be major suspects later. Were you following the storey at the time or researching since??? Are there any other major clues (not mentioned here already)??


    • I remember a re-enactment of this case on Australia’s Most Wanted in the late 80’s — scary stuff. But I only learned of ‘Classical Gold’ when I began researching the case over the last year so. I doubt very much that anything came of it.


  21. With Mr Cruel’s prevalence in the Northern suburbs, I always wondered if there was a link between him and Kylie Maybury. She was killed over Melbourne Cup weekend in 1984 (fits in with the holiday profile) and her killer was never caught. Robert Arthur Selby Lowe was a suspect but was cleared. Baffling.


    • Lorelei,
      Kylie was only six years old when she was attacked, whereas Mr. Cruel’s victims were typically twice that age.

      Kylie was strangled to death, which is one of the most violent ways to kill a person. Mr. Cruel was not a naturally violent man, contrary to what many believe. He was just a very strange and perverted person.


  22. I’ve just started reviewing the case through google and some things I find interesting is that these people form patterns and evolve in their behavior. Mr Cruel just stopped which isn’t normal in the unnormal sense, if you get what I mean.

    Mr Cruel is very smart and it’s been widely documented. I noticed the term ‘red hering’ mentioned in the case relating to the the spray paint on John Chan’s car, the $25k ransom which he never followed up on. This makes me think, if he was so smart then he would have thought long and hard about where he picked up the girls and dropped them as well. Let’s face it, he did so much intell getting them why would he stupidly place them in an area around himself. He would have known police would map it out and make similarities. This guy is no Paul Denyer, he was probably hoping it would steer them off from where he really was. Another thing, is he blind folded his victims and they said they could hear aircraft noise in the back ground. Could it be suggested that being so smart he taped those noises by confusing his true location and muffling the sound of the kids or was it that all the girls knew him and Karmein was the only one who found out.

    What I think they should do is track the facts. for example track car registrations of vans at the time which the victims thought were white or blue. Check houses or apartments that were rented not owned at the time and cross reference the layout the victims described. Why you ask, well if he was so smart cleaning the girls why would he be so dumb taking them to his house. He may have rented a place or even owned another property which would be sterile and allow him to do his work.

    My own personal theory is he was a real estate agent in the area which gave him vast knowledge of the area and I could be wrong but I believe he had been in the houses of his victims before. That’s why he took his time eating at the victims houses, knowing where the phone lines were, where to get in etc etc. He knew how to get in with little fuss. He did his intell to form patterns on what he needed to do after he knew the layout. I’m sure there are police facts which prove me wrong but hopefully an idea can spark another one.


    • Regarding Tullamarine: one of the girls counted the exact number of planes she heard and this was cross-checked and verified with the air traffic controller at Tullamarine. It also fits in with Karmein’s body being found in the northern suburbs.

      Personally, I think the man was travelling in from overseas. He might have been an Aussie working in, say, Hong Kong, maybe originally from NSW. Takes annual leave once a year. Flies into Melbourne, where he has no family, rents a house or a flat for a month, after he releases the girl he flies overseas again. Suppose he was attacking more frequently — say once a month — he’d absolutely HAVE to live in Victoria. But he only offended once a year: he does not have to be a local.

      Police have never specifically commented on which offences prior to Lower Plenty (1987) Mr Cruel may be responsible for. I think we can be reasonably confident Lower Plenty was his first serious crime in Victoria.

      Personally, I think the man was apprehended in relation to a high-profile offence in NSW in 2011. At the risk of a defamation suit, I won’t name the man, but he’s currently remanded in custody awaiting sentencing and I’ve given my suspect to police. Unfortunately, police don’t provide updates on their investigations. I can only cross my fingers and hope.


  23. Hi Tristan

    Thanks for your comments, you make some great points in regards to how this investigation has gone(or not gone)

    The real estate theory is interesting…certainly local knowledge for sure…

    Your comment will go out to all the followers and hopefully ignite some more discussion…Cheers


  24. Just a quick couple of questions if possible. The clues relating to Tullamarine flight paths; was this because of distinctly jet engine noises? Or could it have been another airport such as Moorabbin or Point Cook? Also is there any information of the first (12 or so) assaults? Doesn’t seem to have anything about where these occurred..


  25. Robbo the major airports in the area are Tulla, Essendon and Avalon that cater for jet aircraft only. The reports say on the day or days they were held captive, runway 34 and 27 was in operation at Tulla which is normal to cater for SIMOPS. They would have ruled out the other 2 airports because they frequency is low, even nil some days.

    This may be going to far but if the girls could have remembered a change in aircraft noise e.g when the landing gear lowers or if the jet noise was increasing or decreasing you could narrow the search area. Domestic jet aircraft lower the gear around 2000′-1500′ which is 4.5nm- 6nm therefore narrowing the search area. International a little further out. Jet engine noise, a majority of the time is low above 2000′ because they have very little drag because no gear or flaps are extended and because their higher. There are other variables also.

    In relation to the others I’m currently working on it.

    In relation to your second post about being from another country, anything is possible. Your also right, he doesn’t have to be local but the amount of intell he would have done would take a lot of time. Remember the abductions all took place in the school holidays. I still think there is a link to the victims houses rather than the victims.


    • You know, I’m not sure the intell would take too much time. Park his car out front of Presbyterian Ladies College, select a victim, track her home – one day. Watch the house for the next week or so and wait for the moment to strike. Abduct her, hold for three days and release her. Hand back the keys to the estate agent, fly out to wherever. All up about 14 days. If he was entitled to four weeks annual leave each year, as most people are, there’s no problem with him being a “FIFO” (fly-in fly-out).


  26. Guys and girls we all have some great ideas but this guy isn’t a serial killer. Serial killers work from an urge of killing and seeing their victims in pain. People involved in thoughts of young children aren’t concerned about being famous, they want to do what they do and remain in the shadows. He’s intelligent. We need to think outside the square. That’s why I throw idea’s out there to see what comes back. There is always a link, ALWAYS. I would be very interested to know if all of the victims houses where recently purchased around the time of the crimes or did they have any repairs done prior. We need to conclude that there is no real evidence, so we need to look for patterns that the police haven’t thought of. Saying that, Police need to keep some information excluded from the pubic to exclude wonnabe’s. I’m a rookie at this subject but feel if my my comments can help then I’m doing something


    The Sun
    10 May 1988
    A BOX of classical records is the only clue to the identity of a man who raped an 11-year-old girl last year and who is believed to be responsible for about 20 similar attacks.
    Police said yesterday the rapist stole the four-album record set, Classical Gold, after raping the 11-year-old girl in her Lower Plenty home last August.
    The rapist broke into the girl’s home and tied up her parents and eight-year-old brother before raping her.
    He was in the house for about two hours and made himself a meal before leaving.
    Crime Stoppers co-ordinator Det Insp Ken McKenzie said the vicious rapist was also responsible for a rape in Moonee Ponds in November last year and a similar assault in Donvale in 1985.
    He said the rapist could also be responsible for about 20 rapes in Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs over the past three years.
    “He’s without doubt one of the most dangerous criminals roaming the suburbs,” Insp McKenzie said.
    Insp McKenzie said the recordings by the London Philharmonic Orchestra were sold by J&B Records in 1978 and 1979 and had not been widely distributed since.
    “We are appealing for anyone who may have acquired these records or sold them since last August to contact Crimestoppers,” Insp McKenzie said.
    “Someone must know him and we are hoping the record set may provide the link that could produce the information we need.” “It’s hard to describe a man who would attack an 11-year-old girl and terrorise her family the way he did and it’s very difficult to have any compassion for a man who would do that,” Insp McKenzie said.
    Anyone with information can ring Crime Stoppers any time on 265 5000 or toll free on 008 333 000 for the cost of a local call.


  28. Hi, I only just recently became interested in this case…I haven’t read very much but was just wondering if anyone knows if apart from Karmen, did any of the other girls parent/s work for/involved in the restaurant or food services trade?


  29. O.k. so I’m like a dog with it’s bone when I get started…just noticed that Sally Cheong was a former PLC student as was Karmein and Nicola. The media pictures of Sally all represent a younger person than she was when she dissapeared (I say she was abducted) – I take this to be a deliberate strategy by poilice, with media collaboration to portray her as young teenager…possibly with the hope this will help keep her safer…..

    Is it a school connection….or something to do with food supply company- delivery supply or a kitchen equipment fit out company??????

    If there was more information about the parents occupations this could help rule in or out a connection.

    Sorry if this information is already known…I’m only just starting to look at this…But I feel there is a connection with Sally Cheong.

    Apparently Mr Cruel was able to throw out red herrings…..Mr Cheong took out a million dollar loan against his assets in the weeks following his daughter’s dissaperance….this seems weird…maybe a ransom..to a kidnapper/randsom situation??…..didn’t this happen once before???

    I don’t know if Bung is also connected….but it you look up missing persons…and match up similarities and the specific areas concerned…. unless I have missed reports of past abductions….they seem to be all connected by ethnicity since Karmein…

    I propose…admittedly without any proffessional knowledge…just gut feeling..your Mr Cruel had a relationship with someone of asian backkground that falltered just prior to Karmein’s abduction.


  30. There is currently a gag law in place in the Victorian department of justice, put into place by a judge and the justices of the county court. This law was introduced by the powers that be, to protect both the exiting name and the new alias, given to, a convicted serious sexual offender, on his release from a Victorian prison on parole, or the expiry of his sentences when the time is up.and the sex , violence and rapes they committed before their imprisonment and even any crimes committed while released on parole, after getting out of gaol free, on their last prison sentence, are to be kept a secret from the public. which also includes the new location to which they will now live. All kept a big bloody secret from us, and their victims of crime This so called protected prisoner to be protected from us, is one of the most dangerous and deviant and a one time Mr cruel suspect, MARK ANTHONY JEWELL” THE ARMADALE SERIAL RAPIST”, from 1983 to 1989 and from 2003 until 2010, he is now on parole , in a un-known location and with a new name, Alias, to which only the department of justice no about. One can only hope the Victoria Police no about his every ,move with his new alias and locations he hangs around in protected anonymity, and that they still have him under strict undercover surveillance.
    same old same all, is for our criminal justice system , we have the right to remain silent and they have the right to protect the guity. I just hope that one day mr cruel will finally be caught, just like PETER DUPAS and ADRIAN EARNEST EDWARDS/ BAYLEY, got away with their heinous sex and stalking crimes for so many years under the police radar.


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