Cases Unsolved: Who is Mr Cruel?

7 min read

The question that baffled most Australians until now: Who is Mr Cruel?

But the most puzzling of all is: Why did he do the crimes he did?

Seems like this question will remain unanswered as over three decades since he committed henious crimes against children, Mr Cruel remains at large.

So, who is Mr Cruel?

mrcruel mask hi res | Stay at Home

Simply put, Mr Cruel is an Australian serial killer. It was a term, coined by a newspaper referring to the perpetrator as Mr Cruel, which the media adopted, for the paedophile rapist who assaulted three girls in the northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne in the late 1980s and early 1990s and is also the prime suspect in the abduction and murder of another girl.

To date, Mr Cruel was never identified and the three attacks and suspected murder he did unfortunately remained unsolved cold cases.

In 2016, a bounty of $1,000,000 was announced for any information that might lead to the identification and arrest of Mr Cruel.

Some detectives of the Operation Spectrum also produced a profile of Mr Cruel. One, he used the phrases Bozo, Worry Wort and Missy and had an Australian accent. Two, his victims described him as aged between 30 and 50 and about 173cm to 180cm tall. He has fair to sandy coloured hair and eyebrows, and sometimes wears a gingery beard. He had a slim to medium build, with a small pot belly.

The Crimes He Did

Lower Plenty, August 22, 1987

Armed with a gun and knife, a man broke into a family home at 4 am. He tied the hands and feet of the parents and locked them in a wardrobe. He then tied the son to a bed and assaulted the 11-year-old daughter. He also cut phone lines then left.

Ringwood, December 27, 1988

Also armed with a knife and a small handgun, he broke into the back door of a house at 5:30 am. He bound and gagged the parents, and demanded money. He then grabbed the 10-year-old daughter, Sharon Wills, taped her eyes, put a ball gag in her mouth and abducted her. Around 18 hours later, Sharon was released on the grounds of Bayswater High School.

Canterbury, July 3, 1990

Wearing a tailoured balaclava, he broke into a home at 11:30 pm and tied and gagged 13-year-old Nicola Lynas, taped her eyes, cut the phones and looked for money. He then abducted Nicola and brought her to another house and molested her for 50 hours before releasing her at a power substation in the suburb of Kew.

Templestowe, April 13, 1991

Armed with a knife, he abducted 13-year-old Karmein Chan, who went to the same school as Nicola. A year later, her body was found with three gunshot wounds to the head. Some detectives had doubts whether Mr Cruel also committed the murder because of the lack of evidence against him.

Investigation into the cases

Police believed that Mr Cruel videotaped or took still photos of his attacks. They also believe that if he is still alive, he will have kept tapes and photos of his victims, and collected or swapped child pornography.

He’s so tricky that police described him as very intelligent. He meticulously planned his every attack by doing surveillance on his possible victim and the family. And when he does his crime, he covers his identity each time, once with a tailoured balaclava, then threatens to kill his victims with a huge hunting knife or a handgun, and leaves with no forensic traces and misleads the family or police attention.

Police also describe him as soft-spoken and was easygoing and relaxed while committing his crime as he once took a break during an attack in a victim’s house to eat a meal.

They also reported that one victim revealed that Mr Cruel bathed her “like a mother washing a baby.” In another victim’s case, he grabbed a second set of clothes from the girl’s home to change her clothes before he freed her. In one case, he dumped his victim in garbage bags so that police could not test her original clothes. In the home invasions he committed in the three attacks, victims comfirmed to police that their attacker was the same person.

As police interviewed the victims, two of them described to police that they were shackled to a bed with a rough neck brace. One victim said she heard planes landing while she was at the house. This led police to believe the house was near one of the flight paths to Melbourne airport, and checked houses in Keilor East, Niddrie, Airport West, Keilor Park and Essendon North.

Creation of a Taskforce

Victoria police announced on December 14, 2010 that a new taskforce was created around April that year that reviewed the Spectrum Taskforce investigation and some new leads.

Police have already spent around $4 million while investigating the cases, searching about 30,000 homes and interviewing around 27,000 suspects but still fell short to pinpoint Mr Cruel as the culprit. Although police have admitted that some evidence that were retrieved from the crime scenes at the time went missing, including the tape used to bind one of the victims, which could have provided DNA samples of Mr Cruel.

A $300,000 reward for any information that might lead to the arrest of Mr Cruel was announced — $200,000 for the two abductions and $100,000 for the murder of Karmein Chain.

The prime suspect, Brian Alan Elkner

brianalanelknerimage | Stay at Home
via True Crime News Weekly

In April 2016, before the 25th anniversary of Karmein’s murder, Victoria police increased the reward to $1,000,000.

They also released a 1994 dossier (nicknamed the “Sierra files”) to the Herald Sun newspaper, which was prepared along with the assistance of the FBI.

The dossier contained details about seven possible suspects, including details about one prime suspect, Brian Alan Elkner, a serial violent sex offender, now aged 77, a retired university lecturer at the University of NSW in Sydney’s east, who once wrote a philosophical essay on the “sublime criminal” which suggested that people should attempt “to do evil” to gain the “status of hero”.

In October 1974, he was convicted over the rapes and sexual assaults of different victims and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

During his trial, it was heard that Mr Elkner broke into his victims’s homes, armed with a knife to threaten his victims, similar to Mr Cruel’s modus. It was also reported that he had long harboured criminal fantasies of raping women and young girls.

Mr Elkner was then released in jail before the Mr Cruel attacks.

Yet, he was still just a suspect

Despite Mr Elkner’s history of sex crimes and being convicted of these, he, somehow, got back into society and eventually had a carerr in the education and tertiary sector before he became the director of his own construction design business,

He also started clearing his name by having himself interviewed by the Herald Sun in April 2016, under the pseudonym of ‘Bill’, saying he already moved on from his past as a violent sex offender.

“I’m not sure why they got onto me in the way they did,” he said. “The police have called several times when there’s been a sex crime of some kind and they go through their list of previous offenders.

“I did my time and I have recovered my life pretty well. I’ve got a new family. I’ve rejuvenated myself as a writer and a construction designer and ran a business I’ve just retired from,” he added.

The mystery remains…

Unfortunately though, more than three decades after the first attack, the mystery remains: Who is Mr Cruel?

Up until now, the families of the victims are crying for justice for their loved ones so young to be robbed of a great life ahead of them. And what’s worse is Mr Cruel is still out there doing who knows what.

We just hope and pray no more family will ever be victim of Mr Cruel, and finally bring him to justice.

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