Forever Cruel – My thoughts…

An Outside Look on the Mr. Cruel

It’s been almost twenty two years since the most notorious child predator in the history of Victorian crime struck. Abducting and murdering a young girl named Karmein Chan from her home in Templestowe in front of her siblings. Despite dozens of suspects and countless hours of manpower dedicated to apprehending this individual, he has never been brought to justice. His victims have never been given a final measure of closure in the form of justice and the security knowing that he will never be able to harm anyone ever again.

This series first came to my attention when I was still in high school and I saw a documentary on the case. What helped garner my interest was that it all occurred so close to home. I live in a suburb that is almost a fifteen minute drive from where Nicola Lynas was abducted and returned. I also had friends who lived less than five minutes from the house Sharon Wills was taken from. This series of crimes struck at the heart of the world’s most liveable city as crimes of such magnitude are almost unheard of in Melbourne.

Who was he? What did he do? Where is he now? Why did he murder Karmein? These questions have not only baffled investigators over the years but anyone who lived through this ordeal. Through my research in this case I have developed numerous theories about this offender, all due to the phantom like nature of this offender. There are numerous theories about the suspect over the years that range from a school teacher to someone working in the medical field. All have merit as all the known attacks occurred during school holidays and the way he cleaned his victims before returning them required knowledge well above that of the general population.

Upon the conclusion of my research into this case and using the limited information available to the public, I feel that the theory of a school-related worker may be the most probable outcome. Sure it does not take a genius to know when school holidays are on but if two of the victims attended the same school then surely there is more to it than an astronomical coincidence. I’m no expert in the fields of criminology or psychology but a predator like this would surely of targeted specific victims. Each attack was prepared and conducted with military-like precision. According to Police reports he even knew the victims names in at least one of the cases.

He spent minimal time in the house and was never seen by witnesses as he removed one of the victims from the scene. During each offence he took those present by complete surprise as none were alerted to his presence when he entered the scene. Therefore it is highly likely that such a meticulous individual not only surveyed his targets in the time leading up to his eventual attack but had some form of prior contact. Someone employed at a school in a role where he would have interacted with his victims and access to their personal information to determine their home address.

From there he would have examined the home in order to establish the routine of the residents and how he could carry out his crime successfully. One can only assume he conducted thorough surveillance on the home to establish the routines of the parents and their children. He would examine the exterior of the house to establish his points of entry and exit. The Karmein Chan case may also suggest that he would make an attempt to enter the home beforehand to examine the interior of the property.

Approximately two weeks prior to Karmein’s abduction, A tradesman knocked on the door of the Chan home claiming to be looking for work. I cannot ascertain whether or not he was allowed to enter the property however for the the sake of this article I will assume that he did. He managed to confront the girls on their way to the kitchen and force them back into a bedroom where he was able to contain them and abduct Karmein. I would speculate that he adopted such approaches in entering the property prior to his assault but at a time where nobody was home and successfully avoided leaving any indication of his presence.

The method in which he carried out his crimes may suggest that he had some form of tactical training. Perhaps he had some form of law enforcement or military experience where he learned those skills. As an academic however he could have simply studied the relevant topics thoroughly to the point he had supreme confidence in his ability to apply these tactics while engaging his series of crimes. In their reports on each event, Police would note that each assault was likely carried out with strategic precision as there was never a trace left behind.

Personally, I struggle to believe that he could have been successful in each attempt without some form of prior application of such tactics. Of course I may differ in that I’ve always learned things best by finding a practical use for the subject at hand. However being able to enter someone’s property, particularly when there is proper security installed without leaving so much as a bread crumb for investigators to follow.

Maybe I am wrong, after all many serial offenders are extremely intelligent people. It would be impossible to have eluded detection for so many years without some significant degree of intelligence and control over their insidious urges. Despite the numerous suspect Victoria Police claim to have, there is a shroud of mystery that befalls this case and it may never go away…

I will never be one to promote conspiracy theories or seek to bring myself attention through controversy however my next claim I feel may prove controversial to some. The second and third victims, Nicola Lynas and Karmein Chan both attended Presbyterian Ladies College in the suburb of Burwood. Yes, like I have previously stated that this could just be an astronomical coincidence. Still in the Nicola Lynas case he made her go into her wardrobe and take her school uniform.

Was this part of the man’s twisted fantasy? Sadly we may never know. Still I cannot help but feel compelled to believe that this was the indeed part of such a warped mind. Somehow he would have seen her wearing her uniform and from then on began on a dark path of formulating a twisted fantasy that culminated in Nicola’s abduction. I do not know if he made a similar demand to Karmein during her abduction but the mere fact they went to the school is too hard to ignore.

Perhaps he wasn’t a teacher but there was surely some connection. Maybe a janitor, administrator or even a volunteer worker in some capacity. In doing so he would have exploited his position into accessing the student records to learn everything he needed to about his future victims. This would be the prelude to his well documented preparation for the eventual abduction.

Now more than a decade later, there are more questions than ever. What seems to be a trademark of Police across Australia in playing their cards close to their chest by revealing only small portions of information about the overall case and their suspects which I often feel reduces the ability of the public to assist with the case. However I’m sure their reasons are perfectly sound but if much of the information available now was released closer to the times of the crimes then perhaps I would not be writing this piece now.

Maybe one day we will have the answers we seek and closure for his victims and their families. Perhaps we will finally unmask the possibly the most notorious child predator in the history of Victoria. The sad and terrifying reality is that it may take his return into the public eye before enough interest and memories are triggered amongst the public to reveal his long sought identity. Until then we must put our faith in the ongoing efforts of Victoria Police and hope that they can put a name to the masked menace that was Mr. Cruel…

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10 thoughts on “Forever Cruel – My thoughts…

  1. Sharon Wills is my first cousin. I went to PLC with Nicola Lynas and Karmein Chan. My father worked with Nicola Lynas’s father at Nab and I knew Nicola before she went to PLC. I was 12-13 when these cases happened, and they have haunted me ever since. I was interviewed by police at the time of this case, as the number of connections I had with the case were seen to be too many to be a coincidence. I have lived in anguish ever since that I know something but didn’t know I knew it at the time. My hunch these days is that mr cruel may have been a private school bus driver. All I know is that I have suffered PTSD as a result of this case, and won’t be able to ever truly rest easy until this case is solved.

    • Oh Lauren, I am so sorry to hear what you have gone, and are still going through. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so easy to forget that this case affects real people and not just people in a newspaper story. It is also easy to forget that there are other victims of Mr Cruel, besides the direct victims of the crime. This case terrified children all over the country that were not in any way connected to the case- it is the stuff of nightmares- let alone having it happen to friends and a cousin of yours. It must have been terrifying. Your whole school must have been so anxious when it was happening. I was about 10-11 at the time when this was happening (1980 birth), and even now it still gives me goosebumps. I remember seeing Karmein’s Missing poster at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, and feeling scared and confused -this was before she was found:( (RIP Karmein) I remember reading about Mr Cruel and feeling frightened and not wanting to go to bed at night – even though we were in NSW. It makes you feel so helpless to know other kids were being taken, and that it could happen to you. My mum always used to say it wouldn’t, but you never know. It’s a pretty sad world in which kids aren’t safe in their own homes and beds.

      I can’t even begin to imagine the stress you must have gone through over the years- seeing your cousin and friends hurt and worrying it might have been you. Even being interviewed by police must have been scary for a little girl. I wish they would solve it- it’s the one case that I would really love to see solved. It must be terrible for everybody connected to the case to have him still out there. I have read stories that the police do know who he is and have kept a close eye on him. I have heard stories that he worked at a repat hospital, was a Vietnam veteran, died in a car crash… but I think what you said about the private school bus driver certainly does seem plausible. Especially with the kidnapping dates coinciding with the school holidays. I remember reading that the police thought he may have been a church leader or a school teacher- someone with a career connected to children because of the school holiday modus operandi. You must not blame yourself or have any guilt for not making a possible connection- the adults at the time couldn’t solve it and you were only a little girl. I really hope it gets solved and gives you and other victims of this monster some peace. I have always wondered if Sharon and Nicola have been able to somehow move forward and live a happy life- I hope they are both strong, happy and well (as much as you can be after going through something like this). Warm wishes and hugs to you:) Kristy

      • I spoke to a member of Victoria Police not too long ago who maintains a strong interest in this case and he told me that Sharon has come through remarkably well and leads a happy life from what he was able to tell me. 🙂

  2. I think he could have been a bus driver too. I also went to PLC and my sister was friends with Karmein and in her year. I used one of the school bus routes and we had a really creepy driver who took a special interest in me and always wanted me to sit down the front near him. He had ginger/sandy hair (like the suspect). I remember I got to the bus early one day and he was there and hugged me tightly and with his finger, outlined my lips. I was freaked out and told my parents who told the police who came to my house and spoke to me. I wasn’t sure if I was being paranoid (everyone was at that time) and was thinking the worst of him so I tried to make it seem like not a big deal to everyone and wished I hadn’t said anything. He remained on my bus route and when I stopped sitting down the front near him, I remember he was cross with me. He also had said something about me causing trouble for him which back then made me feel very guilty. Now I think back on it all, I don’t think I was being paranoid. He did seem very suspicious and his behaviour was inappropriate. Whoever it was, I hope they find him and bring him to justice.

    • I’ve been looking into this theory on my own time and I feel like I will soon have something to share with you all regarding this theory. A bus driver would seem to fit right in with certain aspects of the suspect profile. Cheers for sharing your story 🙂

  3. Hi there,
    I’ve only just started following this case as I wasn’t alive when Mr Cruel first attacked. I recently heard about this case in the Herald Sun (8/11/13) when the lead detective was retiring and he begged the public for more information as he was upset he couldn’t help solve this case.
    I have become quite interested in learning as much as I can about the case but you are very right about it being hard for the public to get a lot of the information that police know. Obviously that is for certain reasons.
    Recently, it had come into knowledge that a piece of evidence from one of the crime scenes, a piece of rope that was used to tie up a victim, had disappeared from evidence. This could just be a rookie mistake and someone has misplaced it or something along those lines but it does make you suspicious (at least it makes me suspicious) about the possibility that the perpetrator has links with the police. (Perhaps I have watched too many tv shows as well)
    Thanks so much for the blog, I’m looking forward to reading about other cases you have written about.

  4. regarding knowledge of entering houses: these sorts escalate from peeping tom, to flasher, to petty break ins, and so on – the break ins are where he would have gained experience

    • Police would have intensely scrutinized every employee at PLC, every contractor every laborer every driver that came through it once that connection was made.
      The guy was targeting an area, and people in it go places in that area.
      He could have seen them in public in any number of ways.

  5. I have often wondered about a former teaching colleague whom I believe the police questioned at the time.
    A married man he had taught in China and was obsessed with the innocence of Chinese girls. He had a daughter at PLC and his wife was a teacher at another private school. They lived in the eastern suburbs and divorced at some stage then he married a Chinese woman.
    Apart from some very odd things about him he appeared in the bedroom of a colleague whom he was in the habit of driving to school. She had slept in but was stunned that he had got into the house. After Karmein was murdered she reported him to the police but they cleared him.
    I have never been convinced but he is now dead. For ibvious reasons I would not give his name to anyone except the police.

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