Sunday, January 31, 2016

07 - Bardstown (Part One)

 
Hello, and welcome to the Unresolved Podcast, a podcast all about looking at stories that have no ending. These are the type of unsolved stories that leave more questions than answers, and may potentially leave you a little frustrated at either the lack of information or the lack of any real conclusion. The unfortunate truth is that many of the stories I take a peak at on this podcast will remain unresolved for days, months, or even years to come. 

With that being said, welcome. I am your host, Micheal Whelan. If you are new to the podcast, I thank you for taking the time to download or stream this podcast. If you would like to keep in touch with me, either to parade me in compliments or to ridicule my fact-checking methods, you can do so via a variety of methods. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube... you name it, the podcast can be found. You can also send emails to "theunresolvedpodcast@gmail.com," and now, you can even call in or text the fancy new podcast phone line at 831-200-3550. 

Fair warning to anyone that calls in, however: if you leave a voicemail, I may be inclined to feature in an upcoming episode at some point. That depends on whether or not you leave a legitimate voicemail, or if you just try to creep me out. 

Now that I got that business out of the way, I'll get going on this episode. Episode seven of the Unresolved podcast will be focusing on the town of Bardstown, Kentucky... at first glance, this town has the makings of a picturesque small town, the type of environment where everyone knows one another. But Bardstown has a seedy underbelly which has gone under-the-radar for a period of years, raising many questions about the town itself. 

I'll warn you all now that this podcast might be a little shorter than your usual episode, and feature a few less twists and turns than the others. But that's because it is only one-half of the story, with the other half coming next week. Didn't mean to split it up, but I'll explain a bit more about it at the end of this episode. 

For now, here we go, venturing down into the southern midwest of the United States, to visit Bardstown, Kentucky... 



Bardsown has a deep history, dating back to 1780. European Americans settled the area during their expansion west, and Bardstown became the second oldest town in Kentucky history. 

A visit to Wikipedia will enlighten you to the town's many claims to fame, including storied visits from US President Abraham Lincoln, the outlaw Jesse James, and the legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone. 

More recently, Bardstown won a handful of awards compliment the beauty and the grandeur of the small-town. Rand McNally and other destination contemporaries have voted Bardstown as "the most beautiful small town in America" on more than one occasion. 

The town has been made infamous for one reason or another since its inception, but in the past few years years, a more grimy, unsettling story has begun to write itself in the history book of Bardstown... this story you won't find on Wikipedia, because unfortunately, the truth isn't quite clear-cut and there isn't anything resembling a conclusion to this story. 

But there's no better, or worse, place to start this story than on the fateful day of May 24th, 2013. 


Jason Ellis was the epitome of America. Born in September of 1979, Jason was the one and only son of Denny and Pam Ellis. He had two sisters, Lacey and Kelly, and Jason grew up loving his family so much that he couldn't wait to add numbers to their ranks.


Jason was a star baseball player growing up. He played catcher for his Cincinnati-based high school team, eventually going on to play baseball at the University of the Cumberlands, which moved him south to Kentucky. During his athletic career for this liberal arts school, known as the Patriots, Jason played in 186 games and put up record numbers for hits, doubles, home runs, and RBIS... records which stand to this day. 

It was while Jason attended University of the Cumberlands that he met Amy Phillips. The two were both college students, and on Valentine's Day in 2001, they met at a party being thrown by a mutual friend. They immediately hit it off, with Amy recounting later on how she knew Jason was "the one for her" on their very first date. 

According to her, on their very first date, they were accompanied by Amy's mother, acting as an accidental chaperone and third wheel when Amy double-booked her evening. But the true spirit of Jason shone through when he picked up both mother and daughter for the date, bringing a bouquet of roses for both. That was just the type of person Jason was. 

Jason and Amy would get engaged that next Christmas, in the latter days of 2002, and would marry in October of 2004. 

Jason would eventually be signed by the Cincinnati Reds organization, his hometown baseball team, and he played for their minor league system for a period of time between 2002 and 2004. 

It was his love of Amy, and his desire to start a family, that led him away from baseball. In 2004, Jason played his last game of professional baseball for the Billings Mustangs, the Pioneer League affiliate for the Cincinnati Reds. Amy was pregnant with their first child, Hunter, who would be born just two weeks after Jason left baseball behind. Hunter was born with Down Syndrome, but that didn't stop Jason and Amy from loving him with all of their hearts. 

From that day forward, Jason put his heart and soul into fulfilling another dream he had held since childhood... becoming a police officer and starting a family. 

The young lovebirds would eventually settle upon Bardstown, Kentucky, Amy's hometown, which was just forty or so miles away from where the two had gotten married in Louisville. They immediately got to work on building a family of their own, and eventually brought another son into the fold: Parker, born just two years later. As he got older, many would comment that Parker was the spitting image of Jason, and the two shared an extreme love of baseball.

The Ellis Family

Jason Ellis joined the Bardstown police force in 2006, and he served there until the day he died. 

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May 24th, 2013 - A day like any other, for this idealistic young family in the heartland of America. It was the Friday right before Memorial Day weekend, so the extended weekend was right in their sights. 

Jason had now served the Bardstown police force for close to seven years, and had become an upstanding member of the community, winning Officer of the Year in 2008. He was a canine officer, in fact, the only one in all of Bardstown. On this chosen day, however, his canine-equipped vehicle was in the shop, so he was using a run-of-the-mill police cruiser, his German Shepherd partner Figo taking a small stay-cation at the family home.

Figo

It was approximately two o'clock in the morning, and Jason uses his car radio to inform dispatch that he's off for the night. 

"139 Adam off-duty," he says, just like any other. Dispatch confirms his call, and Jason begins his drive home. He goes south down Stephen Foster avenue, then heads onto the overpass which leads him onto Bluegrass Parkway. 

This is the same route Jason uses to drive home every single night. His work schedule keeps him away from his family on most nights, due to him working the evening shift. On the road, there is barely another soul in sight, and the entire area of Bardstown seems almost vacant, everyone squirreled asleep in their houses this early on a Friday morning.  

It takes him roughly ten minutes to reach his stop, Exit 34. This is the stop just minutes away from his home, a heavily-shrouded, wooded road that leads to Springfield and Bloomfield.

Exit 34

It's not this night that Officer Jason Ellis meets his fate. On this night, at approximately two-thirty in the morning, Jason makes it home. His German Shepherd police companion, Figo, waits for him outside, just like he does every night the two are apart. He's greeted at the door by Amy, who fitfully sleeps on the couch until he arrives home every night. 

Amy goes to bed, but Jason stays up for a little bit to watch TV. Eventually he gets tired enough to go to bed, and when Amy is woken up by her alarm clock at 5:45, Jason is deep asleep right next to her. 

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The day proceeds just like any other Friday. Amy wakes up the kids and heads to school, where she works as a substitute teacher. In the chaos of the morning, she forgets to kiss her husband goodbye, letting him sleep throughout the morning. 

The day proceeds like any other Friday, with some small exceptions. Amy, along with Hunter and Parker, celebrate the school's Field Day with a flurry of activities. The family has a brief encounter at home: just as Amy and their sons are getting home from school, Jason is departing for his shift. 
Jason starts his work day like any other. "139, on-duty" he says over his car radio, at approximately 3:52 in the afternoon. He begins his beat in downtown Bardstown, making a couple of traffic stops, but nothing drastic. 

A little bit after 5:30, Jason arrives at Dean Watts Park, where Amy is watching their son play T-ball. Jason coaches the team along with his fellow officer, Andrew Riley, a police veteran that had become Jason's best friend since joining the police force.

Andrew Riley

But on this early evening, Jason comes to the field in a pretty dour mood. He is only there for a few minutes before being called away to work. He leaves in a hurry, not even saying saying goodbye to Amy or their sons. He probably believes that, just like any other night, he'd get to see them in just a few hours, and they'd begin their holiday weekend like all families should: together. 

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Jason answers the police call, a domestic disturbance about an ex-boyfriend harassing a young woman at her house. The call ends with Jason writing a ticket for the ex-boyfriend and leaving the scene peacefully, hoping to make it back to his son's T-ball game. 

Half an hour or so, Jason returns to the field, but the game is already over. Families are packing up everything and leaving, and Jason doesn't stay long. Again, he forgets to say goodbye to Amy and the kids, leaving for work. 

Amy and the kids head home, piling on the couch and falling asleep to the Disney Channel. She tries to call Jason a couple of times, but the call doesn't go through, Jason likely busy with his route. 

At around 9:00, Jason and a couple of his fellow officers decide to grill up some sausage, so he stops by his regular convenience store to pick up some cheese. A couple of hours later, he meets up with friend and fellow officer, Andrew Riley, in a parking lot. The two regularly do this on slow nights like this, parking alongside each other and just talking about whatever's going on in their lives. 

A short while later, after the two separate, they text each other about a large cardboard cutout of Jason that sits in the window of a local drug store... the two joke about it, Andrew refers to it as "freaky shit" and mentions uploading it to Reddit. 

It's around eleven o'clock at night when Jason calls home, barely missing Amy, who has nodded off with the kids. She immediately calls back, and have the short conversation that's been eluding them all day.

They end the conversation by telling each other that they love one another, and Jason says that he'll see her when he gets home.



The next couple of hours for Jason are consumed by a single call. Responding to a drunk and disorderly man by the name of Joseph William Hamilton, Jason is surprised and infuriated by the ordeal. 

Hamilton only has one arm, but is drunk to the point of being hostile, and suffered a head wound during his drunken ordeal. He is bleeding, and Jason calls for an EMS to assist him after detaining Hamilton. 

Jason heads back out on his route, undoubtedly hoping to spend the rest of his shift in peaceful solitude. But just a few minutes later he is warned that Hamilton, still conscious and drunk, is causing trouble for the EMS taking him to the hospital. So he is called to assist the EMS at the hospital and ensure Hamilton is obedient enough to receive care for his head wound, at which point he is to be taken to the county jail. 

When they arrive, they find the security guard trying to restrain a thrashing Hamilton, who immediately recognizes Jason as his arresting officer. 

Hamilton immediately launches into a tirade, threatening to kill Jason in very explicit, graphic ways. Jason brushes off the threats as being all bluster, and begins taking Hamilton to the Nelson County Jail. 

The process is simple enough, and within minutes, Hamilton has been locked up in county, awaiting bail. He jokes with Sergeant Nancy Sheckels, not knowing that she'll be one of the last people that he'll ever talk to. 

He gets back in his cruiser, then heads down Stephen Foster Avenue on his way home. The same route he drives down every night. Amy, Hunter, Parker, and Figo all await him at home, just twenty or so minutes away. 

He calls off-duty for the last time. 



Officer Jason Ellis takes Exit 34, the road that leads towards Springfield and Bloomfield, but more importantly, home. 

As he exits the freeway, slowing down on the gas pedal, he begins to approach... something. Something in the middle of the road, an obstruction of sorts. 

What we know about Jason is that he wasn't the sort of man to just let someone else deal with the mess. He stops his police cruiser and gets out, hoping to quickly clear away the obstruction so that he can get home to his family. 

The obstruction is a mass of branches and tree limbs, which isn't an odd thing to see in this wooded, shrouded area. But while Jason is beginning to clear away the obstruction of branches and tree parts, a figure waits on a nearby ledge overlooking the road. 

This wasn't an accidental obstruction, this was an ambush. 

Whoever was waiting for him - whoever had planned this attack - fires down upon him with a shotgun. He's hit with at least two different types of ammunition, ammunition usually used for hunting rodents and other small animals. 

Officer Jason Ellis is shot three times in all, getting hit multiple times in the chest, abdomen, right arm, and head area. Within minutes, he is dead, executed by someone that had planned this attack well ahead of time. 

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A short time after the attack on Jason Ellis, a group of citizens approached the crime scene, hesitant to help out. They didn't see Jason laying there at first, bleeding profusely from several wounds. 

Chad Monroe was a farmer and worked at the nearby Heavin Hill Distillery, who had just gotten off of work and was headed home. Just ahead of him was a car with two drunk adults, being driven by the woman's teenage son, who was hesitant to exit the car to examine the scene. 

Chad Monroe is the person who finds Jason's body, and as he begins to look for a pulse or administer CPR, he commands the drunk woman to use Jason's police radio to inform them of an officer down. She does just that, but the call itself is rather hard to listen to. 

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Andrew Riley, Jason's fellow officer and texting buddy, is one of the first officers to arrive on the scene. He arrives to find Jason's body pierced by what looks like gravel; his first thought was that Jason had been hit by a car and dragged some distance. But on further inspection, he finds that the small piercings and bruises on Jason's skin weren't caused by gravel, but by buckshot. 

One can't even imagine the kind of horror that must have overwhelmed everyone - not only those that knew Jason well, like his family or fellow officers - but the community itself. To have a beacon of the community - a father, a decorated police officer, a T-ball coach - executed in cold blood... it's something that nightmares are made of. And to be killed so close to home, by someone that had obviously been lying in wait makes it worse. 

Later that day, Police Chief Rick McCubbin held a press conference, and vowed not only justice, but vengeance against the person - or persons - responsible for the death of Officer Jason Ellis.



Jason Ellis was buried just a short distance away from the home where his widow and sons still live. His funeral was a tragic affair, culminating in many tears and his German Shepherd partner, Figo, placing a mournful paw upon his casket.


Amy Ellis, along with the couple's two sons and the rest of the community, began to mourn Jason's death. But a dangerous sentiment began to spread throughout Bardstown: 
If something like this had happened to a police officer, a paragon of honor throughout the community, how would any of them be safe? 

And a much more important question began to be asked: exactly who was responsible? The investigation was headed by the Kentucky State Police force itself. 

Unfortunately, the case file got cold before the investigation ever got hot. 

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Well, everyone... I thought that I would be able to fit everything about this story into a single episode, but I guess it just became a bit larger than anticipated. On the surface, this isn't a huge story... it may look just like a senseless killing of a police officer to you. But the investigation and the events that follow are rather crazy, and I think it would be best to split apart the story for many reasons. 

One of those reasons is time. I don't want it to be another month before I release an episode, so I'd rather give you all half of the story now and then the other half in a week or so. 

The second reason, among many, is that the next half of the story is very scattered. It's far less linear, more based upon guesswork and happenstance, but I would appreciate an extra couple of days to try and smooth it out... make some sense of it all, I guess. 

So anyhow, I apologize for the abrupt ending. This isn't the last you'll be hearing about Bardstown and the events that followed Officer Jason Ellis' death. 

On a personal note, the reason that the podcast has slowed down to a crawl is simply... work. The day job has been rather crazy lately, and I've been working later than the norm, so I've just had less time to dedicate to the podcast. It's only a temporary thing, and I hope to return to the regular biweekly schedule following this story. 

I mentioned this in the show's intro, but if you're interested in staying in touch with the podcast, you can do so in a variety of ways. Twitter: @UnresolvedP. Facebook.com/theunresolvedpodcast. Theunresolvedpodcast@gmail.com. And now we have that fancy new phone line, so you can call in or text at 831-200-3550. I've tried working up a fancy anagram for that, but the best I've gotten thus far is 831-200-ELK-0. Not very catchy. 

If you're interested in reading along with the podcast, or finding out where I got a lot of this information, you can do so at the podcast website, theunresolvedpodcast.com. There are a couple of great articles there that detail Jason Ellis' final day and the investigation that followed, so I'd highly recommend checking those out, along with links to the music played throughout the episode. 

Before I say goodbye, I need to give out some major props to a couple of fellas that have been helping me out recently. Tyson and Nick have been huge benefactors of the podcast, for two different reasons, but have been helping me out on the production and the research ends, so I can't state how greatly I appreciate it. Thanks, guys. 

And lastly, thanks to all of you for listening and supporting the podcast as it gets going. Even though we're on episode seven, I feel like this podcast is still just a baby and has so much more to grow and improve. I couldn't have made it this far without all of you, so thank you. 

But that's it for me this week. Until next time, stay safe, and I'll be speaking with you all soon! Adios.

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Friday, January 8, 2016

06 - Mr. Cruel




August 22nd, 1987. On the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, specifically in the suburban area of Lower Plenty, things are as they should be. While the rest of the world is beginning to cool down for Fall, winter is coming to an end in Australia, so temperatures are still relatively chilly in this southern city. 

It is around 4AM, on a Saturday. The time where most families are at home, fast asleep. But on this chosen morning, an urban legend was beginning to take form, in the shape of a masked man lurking outside of a family home. 

Removing a pane from the family's living room window, this criminal made his way inside, alerting absolutely no one. This masked man made his way to the bedroom of the parents, armed with a knife and a gun. He woke up the two parents, under the threat of lethal retaliation, pretending to be just a common thief that was interested in their personal belongings. 

Commanding the parents to roll over onto their stomachs, this criminal tied both their hands and feet together, nullifying any plan of escape the two may have had in their tired, groggy, yet-thoroughly alarmed state. This intruder utilized a type of knot commonly used by sailors or those with nautical experience. 

To further compound their inability to escape, the masked man ordered them into their nearby wardrobe, but not before blindfolding and gagging each with surgical tape that he had brought with him. He locked both parents in, under the threat of death, and made his way to the rest of the house. 
In an adjacent bedroom, the family's six-year old son was awoken by the intruder, but was kept relatively unharmed. The masked man blindfolded and gagged the boy with the same surgical tape, and then tied him to his own bed. 

This was when the intruder made his true purpose known, and he made his way into the nearby bedroom of the family's eleven-year old daughter. 

Over the next two hours, this masked intruder would take breaks from his own perverted sexual desires to wander throughout this family's home, even stopping at one point to make himself a meal. 
After spending the better part of two hours sexually assaulting this poor eleven-year old girl, this mysterious psychopath left the house with a box of classic records and a blue jacket stolen from the family. 

This is how the legend of Mr. Cruel began, and established an Australian boogeyman that would haunt parents and children for decades afterwards. 

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Welcome to the Unresolved Podcast. I am your host, Micheal Whelan, and this is our first official episode of 2016. If you are new to the podcast, then I would like to thank you for listening and let you know a little bit about it. This is a podcast all about unsolved mysteries and stories that are unresolved in nature... stories that have no clear-cut ending, and potentially leave more questions than answers. 

For this episode of the Unresolved Podcast, I will of course be looking at the story of Mr. Cruel, a notorious criminal who committed crimes in Australia in the late 1980s and early 1990s and has become an urban legend to thousands, if not millions, of Australians in the Victoria area in the years since. This is the type of story that would make any parent nauseous, as even the minor details lift the veil on a criminal willing to commit heinous crimes to the most innocent victims imaginable: children. 

So, without waiting any longer, here we go, into the tale of the Australian boogeyman known as Mr. Cruel...

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Following the attack on the family in Lower Plenty, the police were obviously called and brought in to investigate the crime. 

Without a doubt, they were stumped. This attack seemed to come unprovoked, and the family had no real demons to look further into. The crime didn't seem to fit with any of the other open cases in the area. 

In the late 1980s, Melbourne had the reputation of being a safe place. "The most liveable city in the world," many citizens ascribed as its unofficial slogan. While violent crime still happens within its borders, it is at a lower rate than many other places in the world. 

So, police began to look into the assault and pick apart the pieces. The parents had been bound, gagged, and then locked inside their own wardrobe. The son had been bound, gagged, blindfolded, and then tied to his bed. The daughter had been physically assaulted over the span of a couple of hours, in which the suspect searched the house and eventually made off with a record collection and randomly, a coat. 

More details came out when the investigators began to focus on the daughter, and she told the police that during one of the perpetrator's breaks, he had used the family phone to call someone else. This call was a threat, as apparently the man had demanded the person on the other end of the phone to move their children or else they would be next, and he referred to this person as "bozo." 

When the police checked the family's phone records, they were surprised to see that no such call had actually taken place. Obviously, this was before the commonplace nature of cell phones, but it became clear later on that this was a trend of Mr. Cruel. He liked to plant red herrings like this, to confuse the investigators. 

Fortunately, it would be over a year before the perpetrator struck again. Unfortunately, we would see the stakes rise dramatically as this perverted individual began a reign of terror that would leave parents and children alike living in fear. 

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December 27th, 1988 - Just days after Christmas, most families would still be enjoying the post-holiday bliss. But on this day, one family would experience the most traumatic, haunting experience of their lives. 

John Wills, his wife, and his four daughters were sleeping in their Ringwood-area home, just a few miles southeast of where the previous assault had taken place over a year prior. 

John was deep asleep, when at around 5:45 in the morning, the sensation of an object to his temple startled him awake. 

"Don't be a hero," a voice ordered him, and John was immediately plunged into a parent's worst nightmare. 

This masked intruder, wearing dark blue overalls and a blue ski-mask, was holding a gun to John's head. He was holding a knife in his other hand, and John knew that to fight back would be to risk the lives of his entire family. 

John and his wife were both ordered to roll onto their stomachs, much like the first crime, and they were bound at their wrists and ankles with copper wire. A similar type of knot was utilized as before, a specialized one used primarily by sailors. They were then blindfolded and gagged with the same type of surgical tape as before, and were then assured by the intruder that he was only there for money. 

The masked man stole roughly thirty-five dollars from the family's bedside table, and he then went throughout the house, physically cutting the home's phone lines. After ensuring that he had a head start, he made his way into the bedroom that the family's four daughters shared. 

Addressing ten-year old Sharon Wills by name, this man woke up the groggy ten-year old girl, and then proceeded to blindfold and gag her as he had her parents. He stopped to pick up a few items of her clothing, and then made off with her into the early morning. 

It took roughly fifteen minutes for the two parents to break free of the restraints, and when they finally did, they were confronted with the crippling realization that their oldest daughter was missing. 

With the phone lines cut, John had to rush next door to the neighbors' house to use their telephone, and he then proceeded to search the neighborhood in a panicked state. Unfortunately, his search would be in vain and come up with nothing. Ten-year old Sharon Wills was gone, and this family's nightmare had just begun. 

Sharon Wills

For over eighteen hours, the Wills family existed in a panicked state, worrying that their ten-year old daughter had been taken from them for good. 

It was just after midnight when a woman stumbled upon a small figure standing on a street corner. Wrapped up in green garbage bags, the small figure was Sharon Wills as she had been left by her abductor. 

Despite the terrible trauma that had just befallen her, the ten-year old was in surprisingly strong spirits, calm and collected. 

"My name is Sharon Wills," she told the woman. "And I was taken from home early this morning. A man left me here and told me to go and ring home." 

The woman that found her called police and got in-touch with the Wills family, and soon they were all reunited, but the investigation into the assault was just beginning. And it turned up some surprising evidence... or, rather, the lack of any. 

Sharon was blindfolded throughout the entire ordeal, so she wasn't able to give a physical description of the attacker, but she described him as a soft-spoken, rather blunt individual that actually seemed somewhat caring about his victims. This of course stood in stark contract to the egregious crimes that had just taken place, so investigators were sure to take a note of it. One of the words used to describe him was "gentle," which was especially shocking. 

During her brief captivity, Sharon was apparently fed a Vegemite sandwich and given some milk and lemonade to drink. And shortly before being let go, the suspect had given the ten-year old a thorough cleaning, not only washing off any possible forensic evidence he had left behind, but clipping her fingernails and toenails, brushing and flossing her teeth, and more. 

The abductor either kept or discarded her clothes, not wanting any forensic evidence to be traced back to him. He then dressed her in an assortment of garbage bags before dumping her off on the grounds of Baywater High School, just a few miles away from her house. 

Investigators were quick to piece this incident to the prior one in Lower Plenty, but they wouldn't make details of that public for quite some time. Needless to say, though, an environment of fear was beginning to take shape, and the nickname of "the Hampton Rapist" began to be used to describe this burgeoning boogeyman. 

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In the weeks and months following the assault, the Wills family lived in a state of fear. The parents, along with their four daughters, began to sleep in the family's lounge together, refusing to sleep in separate bedrooms for months. They installed a security system, and were even given a Golden Retriever as a pet by a caring individual. 

John Wills, in particular, took the assault very difficultly. He began to wonder if anything he might have done would have changed the course of the assault, or saved his daughter all of that untold pain. He had no way to know, and simply had to hedge his bets on the police eventually finding his daughter's abductor. 

Unfortunately, the investigation into finding the perpetrator was a dead-end. Very little evidence was left behind or ever found, and none of it could be used to find one specific person. 

One piece of evidence was emerged in later interviews, in which Sharon told of hearing low-flying aircraft during her short captivity. This is a clue that would go on to effect the investigation later on, for better or worse. 

While many in the area began to wonder who this masked menace was, another frightening question began to emerge: who was next? Nearly two years would pass before that question would be answered.

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The area of Canterbury, Victoria, lies just on the outskirts of Melbourne. Located west of Ringwood and south of Lower Plenty, it is yet another part of this sprawling suburban area, albeit much closer to the center of Melbourne proper. 

The Lynas family were rather well-off English citizens, who had been renting a house along the esteemed, prestigious Monomeath Avenue. For context, this neighborhood had been home to many Australian politicians and public officials. 

Moving to Australia for business purposes, the family was prepared to move back to England in the very near-future. In fact, they had moved to this Melbourne-area community specifically to raise their children safely, and were planning on making their move back home just days later. 

On July 3rd, 1990, their illusion of safety would be shattered forever. 

The Lynas parents, Brian and Rosemary, were at a farewell party being thrown for them. The family was planning on moving back to England in the very-near-future, so they had left their two daughters alone at home for just a few hours.

It was shortly before midnight when 15-year old Fiona and 13-year old Nicola were awoken by the angry, commanding barks of a masked intruder. He ordered Nicola into another room to collect her school uniform from the Presbyterian Ladies College she attended, while he began to tie up Fiona in the very bed she had just been sleeping in. 

Armed with a gun and a knife, this two lone teenage girls stood no chance of either fight or flight. And now with the oldest of the two bound, this intruder was able to make his getaway quite easily. 
Informing Fiona that her father, Brian, would have to pay twenty-five thousand dollars for the safe return of Nicola, this abductor took her and made his escape in the family's own rental car, which was parked in the driveway. 

The two drove for about a kilometer, and then they proceeded to park the family's rental car and presumably transfer to another parked car that this abductor had prepared. 

It was just twenty minutes after the abduction that Brian and Rosemary Lynas returned home, finding their driveway empty and their front door open. That intrigue turned into fear, which only compounded when they found poor fifteen-year old Fiona bound on her own bed, with a ransom message to share. 

Nicola Lynas

The police found almost no evidence from the crime scene itself, the intruder's kidnapping of Nicola having been done in a quick, tactical manner. They realized that tough spot that they were now put in, with most missing persons cases going cold just hours after the initial abduction. 

Unlike the abduction of Sharon Wills, Nicola wasn't returned later that day or even the next day. Roughly 36 hours after the abduction, her father Brian held a press conference in which he pleaded with the abductor and stated his willingness to comply with the ransom demands in any way possible. 

Unfortunately, the Hampton Rapist, as he was now known as, had left behind only a demand for money but no means of which to collect. 

The investigation began to look into business dealings of Brian's, beginning to think that this may somehow be related to his work. The police believed, at the time, that this ransom must have been personal in nature. 

Fortunately for poor Nicola and her family, she was found alive approximately fifty hours after being abducted. It was her 14th birthday. 

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Found outside an electricty station in Kew, just a short distance away from her home, Nicola was left by her abductor. Fully-dressed and wrapped in a blanket, her abductor had left her outside the utility station and told her to sit in a prone position until he could drive away. After that, she had removed the blindfold that had become her vision for the entirety of her captivity, and then made her way to a nearby house. 

It was shortly after two in the morning, but she immediately phoned her father, who had been awake praying for her safe return ever since returning to a desecrated home on July 3rd. 

Nicola was able to provide the investigators with some details that were vital to their investigation. Most prominent among them was a rough estimation of the perpetrator's height, which was roughly 175 centimeters (or five-foot-eight, for those of us stateside). She had guessed this by judging her own height to the attacker when he rushed her from her bedroom to the getaway car, and said that he barely stood taller than herself. 

She revealed information that the suspect likely had reddish-brown hair. 

Nicola was also able to give detectives some vital details they hadn't heard as of yet: a description of her abductor's house and vehicle. While the sketches she gave the police were rather mundane and plain in nature, they were of vital importance, especially once word of how she had gotten them got out. Apparently Nicola had been blindfolded for the duration of her captivity, but had been given a few chances to get a glimpse and taken it. This went in direct contract to threats given to her by Mr. Cruel. 

"My freedom is worth more than your life," he had told Nicola, which echoed threats he had given to Sharon Wills. 

Just like Sharon Wills' captivity, Nicola had been bathed and cleaned before her release. Throughout her captivity, she had also been forced into a neck brace fastened to the abductor's bed, which no doubt fed into the fear and panic she must have felt throughout. 

During this endeavor, it was reported that the perpetrator talked aloud to another person while Nicola was blindfolded in a bedroom, but no response was ever heard. Investigators weren't sure whether this meant there was an accomplice or such, but it's likely that this was just one of his many red herrings. 

She also told investigators, months after the Lynas family completed their move back home to their native England, that she remembered hearing the same type of low-flying aircraft previously reported by Sharon. To investigators, this meant that the suspect lived in the surrounding vicinity of the nearby Tullamarine Airport, most likely in its direct flight-path.

Now the investigators had the rough height of the suspect, as well as detailed sketches of his house, the interior of his car, and a good idea of where he lived. You'd assume that a warrant would be issued for an arrest any day now, but you'd be assuming wrong. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. 

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John and Phyllis Chan were two incredibly hardworking parents that worked approximately eighteen hours a day to ensure luxurious lives for their three daughters. Both immigrants to Australia, the two parents owned three restaurants in the Eltham area of Victoria, as well as a handful of other property investments. 

The two parents often didn't return home until midnight or so, managing one of their three restaurants. They would often leave their three daughters home alone, trusting their thirteen-year old daughter Karmein to watch over the other two.

Karmein Chan

Mr. Cruel must have known this, as detectives believe he would stake out his victims for weeks or months ahead of time, learning their habits. 

On April 13th, 1991, terror and tragedy would strike the Chan family, in the form of Mr. Cruel himself. Even though the family resided in the comfortable Templestowe district of Victoria, in a house that many would classify as a mansion, they weren't immune to the dread of Mr. Cruel. 
It was a Saturday, normally a very busy day for the Chan parents. Karmein and her two younger sisters were left to their own devices, which on a Saturday night meant the three sisters would be watching movies and TV in Karmein's room. 

At roughly 8:40 in the evening, Karmein and one of her sisters started to go to the family's kitchen to make something to eat, when they were confronted by Mr. Cruel, wearing his traditional balaclava along with a green-grey tracksuit and holding an intimidating knife. 

"I only want your money," Mr. Cruel told the three girls, as he forced the two younger daughters into Karmein's closet. He claimed he only wanted Karmein to show him where the money was, and he braced a bed in front of the closet, locking in the two youngest sisters as he made his getaway with Karmein. 

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Within minutes, the two youngest sisters had broken free from their makeshift prison, and immediately placed a call to their father, hard at-work at the family's restaurant.

By the time police arrived, they knew what had taken place. The large house had no sign of children within: no yard toys, no playground equipment, or anything of the sort. This attack had been planned, and that was evident from the house's driveway. 

Written in big, bold letters on Phyllis Chan's parked Toyota Camry were the words "Pay back, Asian drug dealer. More. More to come." 

Tracing his entrance from a cut-window screen, police were able to track the intruder's steps through the house, including his getaway through the sliding glass door in the kitchen. Aided by tracking dogs, they were able to trace the abductor's steps through the family's garden and tennis court, up to nearly 300 meters away at a vacant lot, where he must have made his getaway with Karmein at a waiting car. 

Hoping to get their daughter returned home safely to them, both John and Phyllis Chan held a press conference roughly 72 hours later. Phyllis Chan broke down sobbing, holding up the outfit Karmein had been wearing the night she was taken and pleading for her daughter to be returned home safely.

John and Phyllis Chan

Days later, the Chan family posted an encrypted letter in the local newspaper, using a cipher that Karmein would have been able to decipher. They offered ransom in exchange for the safe return of their daughter. Even Karmein's sisters penned letters to be published in the media, begging for their older sister to be returned to help take care of them and help with their homework. 

Unfortunately, days, weeks, and then months would pass with no word on Karmein's safe return. 
And more unfortunately, the investigation was marred from the very beginning. The first police responders spoiled any potential evidence by failing to establish the Chan house as a crime scene. There were dozens of police walking throughout the house and looking for leads before investigators could begin to look for clues of their own. 

Even though the police force spent the next few months running a fine-toothed comb through John Chan's personal and professional life, looking for any possibility of criminal ties of business enemies, the investigation soon swung to focus on Mr. Cruel. The writing on the Chan's vehicle was nothing more than another red herring, meant solely to mislead investigators. 

One of the largest manhunts in Australian history, Operation Spectrum was a multi-million dollar undertaking that consumed tens of thousands of man hours, along with many thousands of more volunteer hours. Offering a $300,000 reward for any information leading to the capture of Mr. Cruel, the safe return of Karmein Chan was of the utmost priority. 

However, there would be no happy ending for Karmein or her family. 

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Nearly a year to the day of Karmein's abduction, on April 9th, 1992 - A man was walking his dog in the nearby area of Thomastown, along Edgars Creek, when the pair stumbled upon a weird object. He bent down to touch it, and was horrified by his discovery. 

Returning home to alert the authorities, the police soon discovered what the man had found: a fully decomposed skeleton, which would soon be revealed to have been Karmein Chan. 

An autopsy would reveal that Karmein had been shot three times in the head, execution style, and based on the decomposition of her skeleton, had likely been dead for close to a year. 

Theories have lingered as to why Mr. Cruel murdered Karmein, but that can possible be explained by Karmein's own mother, Phyllis. Phyllis insists that Karmein was a stubborn girl who would have fought against being victimized, and likely learned of her abductor's identity. It's possible she learned who her kidnapper was, and paid the ultimate price for it. 

Even though his life had been torn apart, John Chan was cleared of any possible wrongdoing and revealed to be an upstanding member of society. Operation Spectrum now publicly connected Karmein Chan's murder to the three previous sexual assault/kidnappings, and laid the blame at the feet of the true culprit, the still-unidentified Mr. Cruel.


Operation Spectrum would last for the next few years, costing over four million dollars. The forty-member task-force would go on to investigate over twenty-seven thousand suspects, receive over ten-thousand tips from the public, and search over thirty-thousand houses in the hopes of identifying a single clue. 

While Mr. Cruel was never identified by the task-force, it went on to arrest over seventy people involved in child pornography, a seedy underworld that many believed Mr. Cruel to be involved in. Both of his freed abductees had claimed to have seen or heard clues of a camera at the foot of the bed they had been detained in, and it was an easy step to believe that Mr. Cruel was involved in the trading of child porn. 

But, unfortunately, despite all of the good accomplished by Operation Spectrum, the Victoria police force was marred with claims or corruption in the early 1990s, which not only would go on to affect the later investigations into Mr. Cruel, but bring forward many claims of a cover-up.

Operation Spectrum was eventually shelved in 1994, and with it any potential leads for Mr. Cruel.

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Over the years, theories would linger about the identity of Mr. Cruel and his eventual fate. 
No future crimes would be attributed to him, but investigators have possibly tagged prior crimes on Mr. Cruel. While they believe that the abduction and murder of Karmein Chan was his last offense in the Victoria area, there are potentially up to a dozen assaults on children in the mid-1980s that have remain unsolved. And almost all of them share a couple of details with the Mr. Cruel abductions. So it's possible that Mr. Cruel is far more notorious of a criminal than publicly known, but police have refused to release details of these prior assaults or Mr. Cruel's alleged ties to them. 

Another theory that has emerged has been Mr. Cruel's supposed ties to the Victoria school system. All four of the assaults and abductions happened during school breaks, which lead many to believe that Mr. Cruel was an employee of the local school system. This also goes in conjecture with the knowledge that both Nicola Lynas and Karmein Chan attended the same school, Presbyterian Ladies College, and Mr. Cruel requested Nicola to bring her school uniform along with her. This would bring into question his ties to Sharon Wills, since he addressed her by her name on the night she was abducted. 

Further interviews with his two living abductees revealed that he liked to refer to them as "missy," and lived in a fantasy where he thought the two were married. 

It's very possible that this monster, a man that preyed on children in the most depraved ways, spent his working hours among them. 

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In 2010, over twenty years after the original abductions and assaults, a new investigation was launched into finding out details and hopefully identifying this Australian boogeyman. Taskforce Apollo was launched, hoping that newer technology and investigative methods could bring about an answer that prior detectives had failed to find. 

Unfortunately, much to the dismay of the task-force itself, many of the case files were misfiled, unorganized, or just straight-up missing. In fact, one of the vital pieces of evidence that could have led to Mr. Cruel's doorstep - a piece of tape used to bind one of the victims - was missing. Police could have potentially used that piece of tape to recover DNA from Mr. Cruel, but it had disappeared while in police custody. 

This missing piece of crucial evidence, paired with Mr. Cruel's tactical abilities and his knowledge of forensic evidence, has led many to theorize that he might have been involved in law enforcement. It's possible that he would know what investigators would be looking for, which is why he did his best to cleanse his victims of any DNA and remove vital evidence afterwards. We can only guess whether it was corruption or ineptitude that led to these essential parts of the case going missing. 

However, one suspect was detained in 2013 that ultimately could have been Mr. Cruel. Robert Keith Knight was a man who had made a living as a youth worker and school volunteer, but had been arrested on two separate occasions for a multitude of crimes against children. In 1980 and 1996, Knight had been arrested and convicted for sexual assaults on minors, and a multitude of other victims had come out of the woodwork following his convictions. 

According to the original Operation Spectrum investigators, Robert Keith Knight was one of their suspects that had never quite panned out, but investigators had been unable to eliminate him from contention. He remained a person of interest throughout the following investigations, and the time of the Mr. Cruel assaults would coincide with his post-1980 conviction release.

Robert Keith Knight (younger)


After being released from prison for his 1996 conviction in 2009, Knight began to amass thousands of child pornography images, and he was later detained in an investigation by Victorian police. He plead guilty to the overwhelming evidence, and while awaiting trial, he leapt from a second-story prison railing to his death-by-suicide.

Robert Keith Knight (older)

So he is just one of the many suspects that the Victorian police force have had to this day, and they have refused to make much more information public. 

More recently, many people have begun to theorize that Mr. Cruel himself might have resurfaced and been involved in the 2011 abduction of 13-year old schoolgirl Bung Siriboon, as that case remains unsolved without an end in sight.  

As of this moment, the Mr. Cruel case is still open, and he remains one of Australia's most wanted criminals. 

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All right, so I have a confession to make... this was a hell of an episode to put together, so I appreciate all of you waiting for it. I had no intention to take over a month off from the podcast, but it just ended up working out that way. First my day-job became pretty hectic, then a dental issue arose, and before I knew it, it was time to go visit my family for the holidays. It was definitely a chaotic December, at least personally. 

But thank you all so much for listening to this sixth episode of "The Unresolved Podcast," I can't say that enough. I love doing this podcast, I just wish that I had more hours in the day to dedicate to it. 
To all of the Australian fans of the podcast, I apologize if I butchered the pronunciation of your town names. You can blame it on the American school system teaching me almost nothing about your country. 

In case you want to keep in touch with the podcast, you can most definitely do so in a myriad of ways. You can like us on Facebook, just search for "The Unresolved Podcast," or contact us at Twitter (@UnresolvedP) or send us an email at "theunresolvedpodcast@gmail.com". Simple enough. 

If you followed the podcast on social media, you would have been privy to all of my December updates and my New Years resolution goal, which is to put out at LEAST twenty-five episodes in 2016. I would love to shoot for more, but that's the bare minimum goal that I've given myself. I'd like to consider this episode the unofficial launch of "season two" of the podcast, so I plan on making it bigger and better in every way possible. 

You can also follow along with the podcast on the website, theunresolvedpodcast.com, where you'll find a transcript of the show, along with links to articles and videos I used to put together the podcast. You'll also find to the music that serves as the backbone to the show. At least go there to check out the musical artists and show them some love, that's worth the visit by itself. 

So, I guess that's it for this week's episode of The Unresolved Podcast. I hope you all have had a wonderful start to 2016, and I can't wait to get back at it for the next episode. I haven't decided which story I'm going to tell quite yet, but I'll try my hardest to make it a good one. 
Until then, stay safe, and may the Force be with you. Always. 

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