Mr Cruel’s victims never saw his face. He always wore a distinctive black balaclava
A woman who believes she knows where feared child killer Mr Cruel lives claims she is being ignored by ‘stubborn’ homicide squad detectives.
Mr Cruel, whose identity is still unknown, assaulted at least four young girls in Melbourne in the late 1980s and early 1990s, abducting three and killing one.
Karmein Chan, a 13-year-old private schoolgirl snatched from her home after her sisters were forced into a wardrobe, was shot three times in the head.
Daily Mail Australia can reveal the Melbourne woman, who asked to remain anonymous, has fought for three years to be formally interviewed by Victorian homicide detectives who have refused to speak with her apart from a brief phone conversation.
‘I can’t sleep knowing what I know and not being able to tell Karmein’s family. This has really impacted me mentally and I think the police have been pretty cold in not even offering me any kind of support.’
‘They’ve spent 10 or 12 hours over the years writing letters and making excuses about why they won’t talk to me when they could have interviewed me in an hour,’ the woman said.
‘I just want to tell them what I know and they can make up their own minds on how to act upon it.’
Karmein Chan (pictured) was executed by Mr Cruel after being abducted from her home
Karmein Chan’s mother visited the site where her daughter Karmein’s body was found a year after she was abducted from her home. Mrs Chan and her husband had made tearful public appeals for Karmein’s safe return. Police believe the girl may have seen her abductor’s face
The woman claims to hold detailed information on the abduction of Karmein and claims the killer is still alive, well and residing in Melbourne.
During his reign of terror, Mr Cruel broke into suburban Melbourne homes at night armed with a knife and handgun, tied up parents and siblings then abducted girls as young as 11 who he held for up to 50 hours.
He forced the girls he assaulted to wash and carefully brush their teeth and fed some of them meals even while they were being abused.
No useful forensic evidence was recovered from any of his crime scenes. There were no fingerprints to compare or any trace of DNA.
The woman claims she contacted Crime Stoppers multiple times in the hope of being interviewed by cold case detectives in charge of the case.
While she spoke briefly to a detective over the phone for ‘about five minutes’, her further attempts for a sit down interview have fallen on deaf ears.
Desperate, the woman spoke to a senior crime detective from her local police station, who advocated on her behalf to the homicide squad without success.
The frustrated woman even contacted retired homicide squad detective Ron Iddles in the hope he might be able to pull some strings.
‘I didn’t want to go public with this. I don’t want this man destroying evidence now after all these years. I just want to tell police what I know.’
While Mr Cruel is now an elderly man, the woman remains fearful he could still pose a threat.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia a homicide squad detective spoke to the woman on the phone, however determined the information she supplied via Crime Stoppers was not able to progress this investigation.
Mr Cruel was also responsible for an attack on an 11-year-old girl in her Lower Plenty home in 1987, the abduction of Sharon Wills, 10, in 1988 (left) and the kidnap of Nicola Lynas, 13, in 1991 (right).
This sketch of Mr Cruel’s bedroom was made with the help of one of his child victims. Mr Cruel kept the first child he abducted for 18 hours and the second for 50. The last child he snatched, Karmein Chan, was found dead a year after her disappearance. She had been shot in the head
THE TERRIBLE REIGN OF RAPIST ‘MR CRUEL’
The rapist known in the media as ‘Mr Cruel’ attacked girls as young as 11 in Melbourne in the 1980s and 1990s.
August 22, 1987, Lower Plenty: Mr Cruel broke into a house in the night, locked the parents in a wardrobe and attacked their 11-year-old daughter.
December 27, 1988, Ringwood: Broke into a house, tied up the parents and abducted their 10-year-old daughter, releasing her at a school 18 hours later.
July 3, 1990, Canterbury: Broke into a house, abducted a 13-year-old girl and drove her to another house where he kept her for 50 hours before release.
April 13, 1991 Templestowe: Broke into a house and abducted Karmein Chan, 13. Her body was found a year later.
Mr Cruel has never been identified.
In 2016, Victoria Police announced a $1 million reward for anyone who could provide information leading to the conviction of Karmein’s killer.
The woman believes that reward combined with the historic cost of the Mr Cruel investigation is behind the homicide squad’s decision.
‘Money appears to be the real pressure point now with this investigation,’ the woman said. ‘They’re paranoid about people just wanting to get their hands on the reward.’
The mystery clean freak’s brazen attacks were so meticulously planned and committed in such a calculated fashion he was initially known as ‘Mr Cool’.
None of his surviving victims ever saw Mr Cruel’s face, which was hidden by a chilling black balaclava with white stitching around the eyes and mouth.
The woman claims Mr Cruel did not act alone and believes his accomplice is the man detectives believe is Mr Cruel.
Last year, Channel Nine’s Under Investigation produced an image of a man it believed was Mr Cruel, suggesting he may have worked or posed as a substation employee, or lived closeby.
Mr Cruel’s first victim was not removed from her house and was instead assaulted just metres away from her parents, who’d been bound and gagged.
But the next three were all abducted, two would return home but Karmein would never be seen again.
Pictured is a sketch of what a Channel 9 investigation determined Mr Cruel may look like
This map from Cold Case Investigations showed the sites where Mr Cruel attacked and abducted children, where he released them and where Karmein Chan’s body was dumped
His second victim was dropped off near the Bayswater electrical substation 18 hours after being abducted.
His third victim was released near a substation in Kew, just ten minutes from her house.
Both victims also lived near substations just 20 minutes apart in East Camberwell and Ringwood, while the first victim lived near one in Lower Plenty.
His fourth victim, Karmein’s remains were found near a substation known as the Thomastown Terminal Station, also in close proximity to the other electrical substations.
Karmein and one of Mr Cruel’s other victims also both attended the Presbyterian Ladies College – which was across the road from a substation.
‘The fact that it’s all in about a 20 minute drive from each other, in that area the offender has to feel comfortable in order to function,’ senior law enforcement investigator, Mike King told presenter Liz Hayes.
‘From a geographic perspective we just have to keep thinking, why is he comfortable in this area? Why is he selecting the victims where he is? And why is he disposing of them where he is?’.
Mr King said he didn’t believe in coincidences and that there was a definite reason behind Mr Cruel’s movements.
‘There are reasons why he selected those locations to drop off those victims, there are absolute reasons why he selected the victims he did,’ he said.
Shockingly, a witness told the program that in 1988 her brothers saw a strange man filming one of his victim’s homes six weeks before she was taken.
The house backed onto a block of electrical towers.
Karmein Chan’s parents John and Phyllis Chan (pictured) appeared on national television appealing for their daughter to be returned. They had been working at their Chinese restaurant when the 13-year-old girl was abducted while babysitting her younger sisters Karlie and Karen
The body of Karmein Chan (left) was found a year after she was abducted from her parents’ home. She had been shot three times in the head. One of the girls who was released from Mr Cruel’s clutches helped police draw this sketch (right) of the inside of her abductor’s car
Mr Cruel came to the attention of police on August 22, 1987 when he broke into a family home at Lower Plenty, in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs.
Once inside he tied up the parents in their bedroom, covered their eyes with surgical tape and forced them into a wardrobe.
He then blindfolded and gagged their six-year-old son, tied him to his bed and went after his 11-year-old sister.
After making the girl brush her teeth he assaulted her. He cut the phone lines and told the girl she could free her parents after she counted slowly to 100.
All up he spent about two hours in the house, even making himself a meal.
Mr Cruel next struck on December 27, 1988 when he broke into a family home where he found four girls at Ringwood.
Having threatened the parents with a gun and tying them up with copper wire he bound their ten-year-old daughter, covered her mouth and eyes with tape and abducted her.
The next night, 18 hours after she had been snatched, the firl was dropped from a car at nearby Bayswater High School wearing a man’s shirt and green garbage bags.
She told police her attacker had made her shower and brush and floss her teeth. He had kept her blindfolded throughout the ordeal and given her food while she was being assaulted.
‘We can only dread what the man would have done if the girl had pulled off the blindfold and seen his face,’ Detective Chief Inspector Des Johnson said at the time.
‘It is that close to being a homicide.’
The next attack came 18 months later on July 3, 1990 at Canterbury. Both parents were out for dinner with friends but their daughters a 13-year-old and 15-year-old were home.
Mr Cruel broke into the house armed with a gun and a knife and threatened the sisters before bundling 13-year-old into a stolen rental car. He made her bring her Presbyterian Ladies College uniform.
The woman spoke to legendary Melbourne homicide squad detective Ron Iddles about what she knows about the Mr Cruel case
A $300,000 reward was increased to $1million in 2016
Time is running out for Melbourne detectives tasked with bringing Mr Cruel to justice
Fifty hours after her abduction Mr Cruel dropped her, blindfolded and wrapped in a blanket, at a power substation in Kew.
She reported she had been made to brush her teeth and wash herself thoroughly. She had been given food and water regularly while held captive.
Her abductor had watched a press conference in which her father pleaded for the return of his daughter and had spoken to the girl about it.
By now police had this description of the offender: Caucasian, aged between 30 and 50, from 173 to 180 centimetres tall, of medium build with a small pot belly.
Nine months after Nicola’s abduction Mr Cruel appeared again on April 13, 1991 at Templestowe.
John and Phyllis Chan were at work in their Chinese restaurant leaving daughters Karmein, 13, Karlie, nine, and Karen, seven, at home.
Armed with a knife Mr Cruel forced Karlie and Karen into a wardrobe and disappeared into the night with Karmein. This time there would be no family reunion.
A year later, on April 9, 1992 a dog walker found Karmein’s decomposing remains near a landfill site at Thomastown. She had been shot three times in the head.
Detectives believe Karmein may have seen Mr Cruel’s face or recognised him in some other way, leading to him killing her.
Karmein’s murder was the last attack attributed to Mr Cruel.
Over the next couple of years Taskforce Spectrum would examine 30,000 houses and eliminate 27,000 persons of interest from their inquiries.
A poster featuring the faces of Sharon, Nicola and Karmein and the details of their abductions was distributed to 1.4million homes. The FBI also provided a profile.
From 2010 to 2013 police brought together under Taskforce Apollo re-examined the crimes attributed to Mr Cruel but still the identity of the offender eluded them.
Not all investigators were convinced Karmein’s murder was committed by Mr Cruel.
Even the name given to the offender by a Melbourne newspaper has caused police problems – they say he is unlikely to seem cruel to those around him.
It is possible Mr Cruel stopped abducting children after Karmein’s murder.
Anyone with information is urged to call crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.