Who is Mr Cruel?

It’s been three decades since the serial kidnapper, rapist and presumed child killer known as Mr Cruel terrorised Melbourne.

Mr Cruel is believed to be responsible for about 12 attacks on women and children in Melbourne since the mid 1980s, including the rape of an 11 year old girl in Lower Plenty in 1987, the abduction of Sharon Wills in Ringwood in 1988, the abduction of Nicola Lynas in Canterbury in 1990 and the abduction and murder of Karmein Chan in 1991.

To this day Melbourne’s worst child predator still hasn’t paid for the lives he’s destroyed.

Mr Cruel Profile

However, while we do not yet know Mr Cruel’s name, there is plenty we do know about him based on the physical evidence he left at the crime-scenes and the eyewitness accounts of his victims.

Here’s what we know:

  1. Mr Cruel had forensic knowledge

Mr Cruel went to great lengths to avoid leaving behind any forensic evidence that detectives could use to catch him. It has therefore been suggested that perhaps he had some level of forensic knowledge.

  • Bathed two victims and wiped sinks and benchtops to remove fingerprints
  • Transported victim to release site in garbage bags
  • Made victims brush teeth and clean nails
  • Left no DNA at crime scenes or on victims
  • Told Nicola Lynas “you will be taken to a hospital and they will test you you will be examined by a police surgeon. They’ll be looking for evidence to link me to you and they won’t find anything.”1

2. Mr Cruel had access to property under flight path

It is believed the perpetrator had access to a property which was located under one of the two main flight paths into Tullamarine Airport.

  • Both Sharon Wills and Nicola Lynas heard planes landing while in captivity. Nicola Lynas told detectives she could hear the planes banking after they passed over her.
  • An investigation into flights operating that day determined the likely location of the property as under either the Tullamarine east-west or north-south flight paths.2
  • Spectrum Taskforce Head David Sprague said that based on how loud the planes were, they might have been just 400m above the house.
  • Police searched 30,000 houses in 15 suburbs including Coolaroo, East Keilor, Niddrie and Westmeadows without luck

3. Mr Cruel followed media about his crimes

  • Watched Lynas family press conference with Nicola and spoke to her about it, saying “Think you’re worth $25,000?”
  • Went out to buy the Sun and seemed to enjoy the stories about his crimes and the parallels being drawn to other abductions

4. Mr Cruel probably videotaped his victims

  • Sharon saw a wooden tripod at the foot of the bed she was held in

5. Mr Cruel used red herrings

  • Pretended to talk to an accomplice during Lynas abduction
  • Pretended to be seeking $25,000 ransom during Lynas abduction
  • Pretended to make a phone call during Lower Plenty home invasion
  • Pretended to be looking for money during Lower Plenty, Wills and Lynas attack
  • Spraypainted Chan’s car with words ‘Pay back Asian drug dealer. More anon. More to come.’

6. Mr Cruel listened to radio

  • Left radio on 3TT throughout Wills attack
  • Played KZFM in his car during Lynas attack, and had radio on in his bedroom
  • Brought in radio and tuned it to 3KZ in Lower Plenty attack to mask sounds of attack

7. Mr Cruel’s lifestyle gave him freedom of movement at certain times

  • Slept in until 10am during the Lynas attack on a Wednesday morning in July 1990
  • Was unshaven during Lower Plenty attack in August 1987
  • Abductions of Sharon Wills, Nicola Lynas and Karmein Chan occurred in or leading up to school holidays
  • Was able to conduct extensive stalking and surveillance in the lead up to his attacks

8. Mr Cruel’s language

  • Used terms “bozo” “worry wart” “yous” and “missy” to his victims.
  • Lower Plenty victim and Lynas described his voice as ‘deep’ ‘gruff’ ‘uneducated’
  • Wills family described him as ‘no accent, well spoken, fluent English’ suggesting that he was Australian
  • “You’re not going to be a hero are you?” to John Wills, “Think you’re worth $25,000?” to Nicola Lynas; “Do you feel brave?” to Lower Plenty victims
  • Reportedly told at least one victim “my liberty, my freedom is more important than your life.”

9. Mr Cruel could tie knots

  • Knots used by sailors, truck drivers, farmers and fishermen.

10. Mr Cruel almost certainly had prior criminal or tactical experience

  • Controlled multiple adult victims in Wills and Lower Plenty attacks
  • Cut phone lines
  • Entered via various means: removing window pane with knife, forcing roll-out window, pushing key through lock
  • Had weapons and handcuffs
  • Carried a kit containing housebreaking implements and restraints3
  • Evidence of planning suggests offender spent time conducting reconnaissance and surveillance on his victims.4

11. Mr Cruel possessed a gun

  • Lower Plenty family described his gun as a small black pistol-style handgun.
  • Wills family described a dark-coloured handgun with a square grip, a squarish barrel with a silver bit at the end, possibly a pistol.
  • The Lynas sisters described the gun as a gun with a silver barrel and a brown wooden handle.
  • Karmein Chan was shot with a .22 calibre weapon

12. Mr Cruel’s physical appearance

  • Mr Cruel went to extraordinary lengths to ensure he was not seen by his victims and descriptions varied
  • Lower Plenty description: aged mid 20s. Australian. 178cm to 183cm tall, slim to medium build with brown, greyish/white hair with white spots in it. Greyish/white bushy eyebrows. Unshaven, with a couple of days growth. Oval face, soft hands, possibly right handed. Wearing blue denim jeans, good condition, close fitting, a brown tweed sports jacket, a blue nylon waterproofed zip up jacket, blue runners with white flashes down the side, white soles in good condition and white cotton socks. Navy blue balaclava with an open face and some type of material covering the eye area. Dishwashing or surgical gloves light in colour, possibly yellow.5
  • Wills attack description: Australian. 173cm to 180cms tall, thin to medium build. Had either a moustache or whiskers, possibly an early beard growth. Aged mid 20s to 30s. Right-handed. Hairy chest. Wearing a dark coloured boiler suit, gloves and a dark coloured ski mask or balaclava which had eye and mouth holes and white stitching around the eye and mouth holes, possibly with red stitching as well.6
  • Lynas attack description: just under 170cm (though Nicola’s sister estimated his height at 182cm), well built, slightly big stomach, like a beer belly. No body odour; hands felt hairy with rough skin and shortish fingernails; arms were quite solid and stocky with fine hair; that he had fine hair on his chest and no hair on his back.7

13. Mr Cruel took trophies from his victims

Mr Cruel stole several distinctive items from victims including:

  • Ecuadorean Shirt Company parka with fake black fur collar
  • a gold diamond engagement ring with the number 4132 stamped inside
  • classic gold record set by London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Rosemary Lynas’ driver’s licence, Medicare card and credit card
  • Ken Done beach bag
  • A PLC summer uniform, tracksuit pants and school jumper
  • A Melbourne football club beanie

14. Mr Cruel’s car

During the Dec 1988 and July 1990 abductions of Sharon Wills and Nicola Lynas, Mr Cruel transported his victims in a car:

  • It was a four-door vehicle with carpeted floor, bucket seats, a low glove box and a floor gear shift
  • The vehicle smelt clean but sounded old and he had trouble starting it
  • The floor carpet, front door, arm rest and press down lock were all cream coloured
  • He told both girls the car was stolen, which may suggest the car was not in fact stolen
  • On the night Nicola Lynas was released, a White Commodore Vacationer sedan with three blue stripes along the side was seen acting suspiciously nearby
  • Two separate witnesses have reported seeing a ‘ute’ or ‘truck’ near where Karmein Chan’s remains were discovered – NB these sightings have not been verified by police

FBI Profile of Mr Cruel

On 24 April 1991, the FBI provided the following profile of Mr Cruel to Victoria police based on their ‘research and investigative experience in similar cases’:

  • he may reside or work in proximity to his first and last known attacks i.e. Lower Plenty, Templestowe.
  • he is likely to be employed or involved with a school due to the use of school uniforms and timing in school holidays (though NB the Lower Plenty attack and abduction of Nicola Lynas did not occur during Victorian school holidays)
  • he will appear genuinely dedicated to students and this may have been recognised with awards which seem to make him above suspicion
  • he will have kept home-made pornography including of his victims
  • he is a functional individual with steady employment, is generally regarded as a good neighbour, polite, quiet, somewhat introverted, and may be involved in community projects
  • if he has a partner they will have been away during the time of his attacks and will know of his sexual dysfunctions, use of pornography and schoolgirl uniforms etc.
  • those around him may have noticed changes in behaviour during and after attacks, including uncharacteristic use of alcohol, interest in religion, missing work or appearing distant and preoccupied


References

  1. According to a detective who worked closely with the victim. Shocking Australian True Crime Stories, Paul Anderson
  2. ‘Infiltration: The True Story Of The Man Who Cracked The Mafia’, p 129, Colin McLaren
  3. Spectrum Task Force Special Circular 12 August 1991
  4. ‘Victoria Police and FBI dossier on shocking Mr Cruel child attacks’ Herald Sun Keith Moor, April 8, 2016

35 thoughts on “Who is Mr Cruel?

    1. His name is thrown up from time to time. As far as I know there is nothing to rule him out, but he’s just one of hundreds of paedophiles who lived in Melbourne at the time. You could look up his address at the State Library to see where he was living.

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    2. ok every body listen i have some information about mr.cruel: mr. cruel now is have 70 years old born in 1952 and he have 12 crimes but the last with that girl was found death is not the same person, hes last 4 crimes, explain:1 crime per year, but in 1 year is making his target and the plan his plan was making in airservices Australia Melbourne. On his notebook or something and probely is in another continent
      in asia: 46% australia:67% europe:78% USA:89%. Please take this information and realpy me btw im not good at english pls no hate.

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    3. I definitely think it was Peter Scully! I’ve been doing research and the timeline lines up with Scullys age, description, everything.

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    4. It was one of the great bookie robbers, he died in a Melbourne airport robbery in 92 can’t Ren his name norm Lee or norm Allen something like that,strange coincidence that their was no more attacks

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  1. i think its moorabin airport and that he burgles his intended victims homes before and gets his access ready and likely places a listening device…

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      1. yep and ive delivered to there and even though the planes are small when they fly over they sound huge…

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  2. Could mr cruel safe house be home of friend or relative on holiday, cause attacks are close to school holidays

    I’m

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    1. If he is as meticulous about his surveillance and care around removing forensic evidence suggests, then driving an older vehicle that he has trouble starting shows unusual lack of care inconsistent with all that. Suggestion- it could be car of someone who does not drive much so battery loses charge or it isn’t serviced as much. That could be an older person’s car or someone with disability or health issues minimising car trips so eg battery splutters or starts to go flat or fuel slow to uptake – specifically an old woman who may not have skills or strength or training to service her old car or a widow whose husband no longer around to take care of it. Or old or disabled man without mechanical skills or current ability to maintai n vehicle. School holiday timing suggests safe house and car could belong to older person like that who goes away to stay with family or friends around school holidays or is put into sometime of care during those times. Any cross checks with respite care agencies for older or a disabled person put into care around the dates of the abductions? Cross reference any owners of the type of car referred to registered within the target GPS zone and specifically, any such cars disposed of or not re-registered after the last known use of it. The older owner could have gone into full time care or died. Their death could be another possible explanation for why attacks seemed to stop. If eg the presence of or need to care for elderly and/or disabled person came to an end the house may need to be sold as well to fund full time care or distribute assets under a Will to beneficiaries if they died. Any deceased estates sold or changed hands under a Will in the target area after the last attack? If the perpetrator had onerous responsibility for caring for an elderly or disabled person excepting around school holidays, that may have cramped their ability to pursue their own relationship, warped their sexual development so they remained fixated on girls age around the age they were when their sexuality budded but was somehow blocked by other life events eg sick parent or widowed parent. The interest is schools, school uniforms and specifically PLC – more than a mere fetish. It connotes aspiration to be around or be attracted to upper class girls. They may be seen as nicer, more polite or better catches?

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  3. I just had an epiphany while reading this…The recent 60 Minutes Australia episode made extensive note of the Electrical Substations being used in reference to his abduction and drop-off points (including the burial site of Karmein Chan), BUT- the FBI profile seems to share the idea of him being associated with a school. What if both were true: if Mr. Cruel is an electrical worker and his wife/partner was a schoolteacher. That would make perfect sense. Anyone else believe this makes perfect sense? (The school holidays would be “good” times for the abductions because the wife would have time off to take a vacation/holiday, and the students/girls would most likely be at home when he broke in)

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    1. i just don’t think he would risk doing anything associated with his work as he would increase the risk of getting caught… i doubt he has any connection to the sub stations and after hearing of the faked call where he threatens another family i feel he has a connection to the parents somehow..

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  4. I wonder if missing school girl Boon was also a Mr Cruel victim, and the girl who went missing after visiting dentist (though she is a little bit older than most victims)

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    1. That’s interesting, it doesn’t fit with the electrical industry profile however I have always wondered if mr cruel had access to schools via traveling vans that would visit schools all over Victoria back in the 90’s (they still might do I don’t know)

      We would have a visit from a few diff types of vans, but one was a dental van.
      once or twice a year we would get free check ups etc and anything bigger then a filling would usually be referred to a actual dentist.

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  5. After following case extensively. It is apparent Mr Cruel very cunning and manipulative . For example: some victim’s say they could hear planes flying over house . Could it be he played recording of plane’s? . It is also apparent this person has a personality disorder. It could also be possible two people involved, this regards to moving the children from home to car to place of crime. It also happened at a time child pornography was legal, therefore high probability involved in a ungrounded pornography ring or linked to one. Also high probability linked to Bung Siraboon case. Person either self employed at the time or work for large work place that involves shift work . Person is highly skilled. Someone has too know who Mr Cruel is. Smallest detail is most crucial and this how it be solved

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    1. The split personality theory would match with testimonies saying he was « well-spoken » and others saying he sounded un-educated

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  6. Had access to guns. Highly manipulative. Would it be possible worked or conducted contract work for police academy in Victoria? Someone in underground crime during 1980s to late 1990’s must know who this person is. Maybe was injured by Karmein thus explains the extereme violent way of death. I live in hope this case is solved and closed.

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      1. Go on peter Sylvester’s podcast, there’s an episode where a career criminal on his deathbed told a cop,it was great bookie robber the one who looked Asian, Mr cruel apparently told this crook who he was best mates with

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  7. MR CRUEL: Definitely a cop. He just yells cop. How can he not be already found. Not saying he might be working on the case but he definitely has access. I mean really electrical substations? Is it really a clue? He definitely is going to be doing again. He’s a SERIAL RAPIST and a MURDERER.

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  8. The biggest clue to his identity possibly comes in the first Lower Plenty attack. He asks the victim her name, and then on a number of occasions calls her Kate, Cate. Mr Cruel has made few if any mistakes as evidenced with his crimes never being solved. So why would he make such a mistake. Brian Elkner daughter is named Cate. On his first attack he would have thought it highly unlikely anyone would make a connection to the attacker, the victim and being called the name of his daughter, we know from the physiatrist at his rape trial that Elkner has a gross psychological disturbance that was unlikely to heal. Could that gross physiological disturbance have included sick feelings or worse to his daughter/s which he played out in his fantasy world why attacking and raping. To delve a little deeper, their is a transcript of all the things Mr. fuel said during the Lower Plenty attack. It does not include him calling the girl Kate/Cate. We can then assume he called her this name while playing out his vicious sexual attack on the girl . All part of his disturbed sexual fantasy. Hence this part of his communicstion would not be for public knowledge.
    So why The mistake.

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  9. So back in the early 90’s I went to high school in the eastern suburbs I swear to god i was walking across the main road at the pedestrian lights, something made me look over at the cars stopped at the lights a man in a balaclava and black gloves on, made me look twice he’s dead eyes followed me across the road driving a ford falcon I think about this now and again and thought of this immediately it was a scary time

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  10. Maybe a family member that when hiring a video camera in the late 80’s he knew how to use it even though he says he never had one. Maybe an uncle who when you as a kid says the boogie man he gets paranoid and wants to know why you said that then is happy your not accusing him . Or a family member who always talks about DNA when it first came out. Or maybe another uncle who is not blood brother thinks he is Mr cruel but can’t say anything and knows it’s him and says he lives in the right spot. And an uncle that stopped using words after evedence came out how he spoke. And someone who keeps getting different cars. My other uncle said . And an uncle that’s is so dam close to your parents no one could ever tell them .

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  11. Norman lee, is mr cruel, I do believe. You need to look at pictures, even a witness described him. He died in a robbery in 1992, there is no attacks after that year. They need to investigate more of a timeline for him. That’s who I think it is,

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  12. although it’s believed that he accessed the victims’ houses due to the flight paths does anyone think he could’ve accessed them because of the electrical substations whether it be his knowledge of where they were from research or if he was an employee of sorts that went around from each one which could explain his familiarity with them especially when he allegedly was looking over one of his victims’ fence who just happened to live on land that was taken up by some transmission towers and was caught by the victim’s brothers only to then hide instantly bcuz he knew hed been seen

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  13. Imagine… if this could’ve been Karmein Chans killer! You never know!

    Between 1990-1993 (I was 10-13 years old) I remember walking down the road I lived on, with a car slowly tailing behind. It was a busy road but I still noticed a man behind the steering wheel watching me. That night, approx between 11pm-1am, I was lying in my bed, awake still, and I heard a noise outside my bedroom window, then I clearly heard someone taking off the window mesh on my window. When I finally realised what the sound actually was, I screamed out to my mum, who was in the lounge room, watching tv. She ran into my room, and the person fled. I don’t remember much else but the next morning we inspected the window and the aluminium frame was bent with the corner hanging out and the mesh had a slash, as though it was big enough to stick your hand in and attempt to see if the window would slide open. Which it does. Our windows were very easy to break in. That day my mum was so scared she ordered our roller shutters to be installed, immediately. And this is why we had roller shutters. We lived opposite a street.. very easy to park there and stalk the house. And my room, right there at the front. You could easily see me at night with my bedroom light on. Ohh those days with those horrible blinds we used to have. You could see everything from outside.

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