Will Percy's pen lead to a serial killer?

August 31, 2007

DEREK Ernest Percy may be a man who refuses to say what he thinks, but the suspected serial killer cannot help implicating himself by his own hand.
Percy is suspected of killing up to nine children. But when questioned his answers have always been the same: that he simply can't remember. No denials, no false alibis, just a blank look followed by a non-committal answer.
Yesterday, after gaining an order from the Melbourne Magistrates Court, Victorian and NSW detectives again interviewed him over a series of abductions and murders that began in 1965 and stopped when he was arrested in 1969.
Previously, he has admitted being near several murder scenes but maintains he doesn't know if he is the killer.
While he doesn't speak about it, his diaries have always documented his violent sexual obsessions. And it is that compulsion that has given police a glimmer of hope that they may find answers to some of Australia's most awful crimes.
The reason police yesterday moved to question him was the discovery of 35 cardboard boxes and tea chests filled with his papers and possessions, hidden for decades in a South Melbourne storage depot.
Much of the material is harmless old court documents and stamp collections. But when police checked the boxes in July, they found clippings on sex crimes, handwritten stories on child abductions and material that appears to implicate Percy in unsolved murders, such as razor blades similar to those used to mutilate one of the victims, a map with a handwritten line to the point where one child was abducted and a cartoon with the note "Wanda" the name of the beach where two victims died.
Percy was arrested for the murder of Yvonne Tuohy, 12, who he grabbed on Warneet beach on July 20, 1969 the same day that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
He remains the suspect in the murders of Christine Sharrock, 15, and Marianne Schmidt, 15, on Sydney's Wanda Beach in January 1965; the disappearance of the Beaumont children Jane, 9, Arnna, 7, and Grant, 4 in Adelaide in January 1966; the murder of Allen Redston, a six-year-old grabbed in Canberra in September 1966; Simon Brook, 3, killed in Sydney in May 1968; and Linda Stilwell, 7, abducted from the St Kilda foreshore in August 1968.
Percy was a teenager in Victoria's Mount Beauty when he began to write of his disturbed fantasies. His parents found his diary and, horrified by what they read, burnt it. Later his grandmother found more writings she would only describe as "rude". Again they were destroyed.

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