Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Paul Charles Denyer: The Frankston Serial Killer

Paul Denyer
There is something so much worse about crimes which happen in close proximity to where you live. The sense of closeness to the crime scene and the victims is so much more acute. This is how I feel about a series of murders which occurred in Frankston, a working class suburb of Melbourne.

Over a seven week period in 1993, three young women lost their lives and another older woman was lucky to escape with hers.

Elizabeth Stevens
The first victim was Elizabeth Stevens. A student, Elizabeth came home on the bus one rainy night. She didn't see the man hiding in the shadows as she got off the bus and made her way through the park to her aunt and uncle's house, where she was living. She was brutally attacked, with massive stab wounds and other knive wounds forming a criss-cross pattern. She was naked from the waist up, but had not been sexually abused.

Police canvassed the local area, knocking on doors and appealing through the media for any witnesses. Not only were they unable to find this killer, but soon he struck again.

This time the victim had some luck. Roszsa Toth, 41, was walking home from the train when she was violently attacked from behind. After fighting for her life, including biting the fingers of the attacker to the bone, Roszsa managed to escape. Initially the police thought that this attack may have been a mugging gone wrong, but it was quickly linked to the murder of Elizabeth Stevens.

 Debbie Fream

The third victim tore at the heart strings of the Melbourne community. Deborah Fream, 22, had given birth to her first child 10 days earlier. With a friend over for dinner, Debbie popped down to the local store to purchase a litre of milk. While she was in the store, her killer crept into the back seat of her car. Her body was found in a cow pasture a few kilometers away. She had been stabbed 24 times, but had not been sexually assaulted. The thought that a young mum could be taken from her local community so brazenly had the whole suburb of Frankston terrified. The streets were deserted at night. But worse was to come.

Natalie Russell

Natalie Russell was a 17 year old school girl, walking home from school along a popular short cut. It was a bright, sunny afternoon, and Natalie was in her school uniform. As she walked along this path a man crept out from behind a cut he had made in a chain-link fence. He grabbed her from behind and dragged her back through the fence before any of her school friends noticed. Her body was found later that night. She had been stabbed repeatedly and her throat had been cut. She had not been sexually assaulted.

But finally the killer had made a mistake: a piece of skin, not from Natalie, was found near her neck wound - probably the killer had cut himself during the attack. His car was also spotted, by an observant police officer, in the area at the time Natalie went missing. The officer had written down the registration of the car as it had no number plates. It was this information which lead to the arrest of Paul Denyer.

When police questioned Denyer he had cuts on his hands which would be congruent with the skin found at the scene. He claimed he had cut his hand on the fan of his car. Whilst waiting with a police officer, he noticed the crucifix around the officer's neck. This sight led to Denyer breaking down and confessing. He talked for days, and took police to the crime scenes to help find victim's wallets and reconstruct the crimes. He appeared to enjoy this process immensely.

POLICE: Can you explain why we have women victims?

DENYER: I just hate them.

POLICE: I beg your pardon.

DENYER: I hate them.

POLICE: Those particular girls or women in general?

DENYER: General.

Theorists and profilers indicate that one of the precursers to murder is cruety to animals. Paul Denyer fits this theory very well - he had an extensive history of animal cruelty and murder, killing a family kitten when he was 10 years old, disemboweling it and hanging it from a tree. Instead of playing with the usual things that would occupy a boy of his age, he grew up fascinated with his collection of knives and clubs and home-made slingshot-guns that fired pebbles or ball bearings. His murderous intentions started at an early age when he regularly dissected his sister's teddy bears with a homemade knife. He also killed his neighbours cat and her litter of kittens, in an extremely grotesque and bloody manner, only shortly before the murders, writing threatening messages on the walls in the cat's blood. He was obsessed with violent movies which he watched over and over. He told police that from the time he was 14, he knew he would kill, he was just waiting for "the silent alarm" to go off.

I have always wondered whether, because of his history, Paul Denyer could have been prevented from reaching the stage of serial killer, but realistically the answer is most likely "no".

Denyer in prison.
Paul Denyer recently applied to the prison system for permission to get a sex change operation. His request was denied.  It's difficult to know if this request was due to genuine gender dysphoria, or to serve some other purpose.


Crime Library


No comments:

Post a Comment