In June 1993, Elizabeth Stevens, 18, was murdered on her way home from the bus stop. Her death began a seven-week reign of terror for the people of Frankston. A serial killer was on the loose. No one was safe, not young mother, Debbie Fream, 22, taken on a trip to the shops, nor Natalie Russell, 17, murdered on her way home from school. The serial killer, Paul Denyer was captured and sentenced to life in prison. On appeal, he was granted a 30-year minimum sentence. Fast forward 30 years and Denyer has applied for parole. Award winning crime writer Vikki Petraitis was on patrol with police the night the final murder took place. She wrote the bestselling book, The Frankston Murders which has never been out of print. Vikki has revisited the case in a longform podcast to remind the world why Denyer must never be released. The Frankston Murders Podcast uncovers new material and new victims stalked by Denyer in the lead-up to the killings. Vikki interviews prison guards, police officers, family members, and people caught in the periphery of a serial killer.
Created by Vikki Petraitis
Research and writing by Vikki Petraitis
Audio production and scoring by Mike Migas (https://mikemigas.com/)
Audio production by Anthony Telfer
Archive production by Catherine Seccombe/Arcdive (https://www.arcdive.com/)
Archival audio supplied by The Footage Company / Nine Network Australia
47 years ago, on a warm summer’s night in Melbourne, Susan Bartlett and Suzanne Armstrong were stabbed to death in their home in Easey Street, Collingwood. Suzanne’s 16 month-old son was asleep in his cot at the time.
The double homicide left the community shocked and detectives rattled, as several promising early leads gradually petered out. Eventually, the case went cold.
To this day, the Easey Street murders is still one of Australia’s most confronting cold cases: a frenzied crime shadowed by strange twists of fact and fate. A million-dollar reward for information has failed to lead to an arrest, no one has ever been charged, and critical questions remain unanswered. Did the young women know their killer, or did they die in a brutal, random attack? Why has their murderer never been found?
Journalist Helen Thomas has been investigating Susan and Suzanne’s deaths for more than a decade, initially for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Background Briefing programme and then for her book, Murder On Easey Street. Now Helen has delved into the case again for a brand new, original podcast made for Casefile Presents.
In Casefile Presents: The Easey Street Murders, Helen explores the crime and the investigation that followed. She speaks with the young women’s family and friends, potential witnesses living in Easey Street who were never interviewed by detectives – and the retired police who were first at the crime scene in January, 1977 and remained haunted by it even now.
Want to hear more? Search for ‘Casefile Presents: The Easey Street Murders’ in your podcast app. Or binge the entire series for free, exclusively on the iHeartRadio app.
When Denyer’s reign of terror was over, he left devastation in his wake. Family and friends struggle to make sense of the crimes. Debbie Fream’s son, now nearly 30 speaks of his loss. With the parole bid looming, we all need to be warned.
So who is Paul Denyer? He was a boy with some strange and concerning habits which people noticed. As a 21-year-old in prison, he had to navigate a whole new world. We meet the people who met him in prison.
As Natalie’s family holds her funeral, the police prepare the case against Denyer. He pleads guilty and the judge gives him a life sentence. He appeals and is granted a 30-year non-parole period. Widespread community outrage follows.
Denyer’s confession is like nothing the police have seen before. He is cocky and boastful and details his crimes with a note of pride in his voice. However, he is cagey about some aspects. He talks to the detectives like they are all friends.
While Natalie’s loved ones spend the night wondering if the body found could be her, police frantically hunt the killer, fearing he’ll strike again. When two cops report checking a car near the murder scene, his name comes up on the computer.
Natalie Russell was on her way home from school at 2.30 in the afternoon when she was targeted by the serial killer. He had grown cocky and left evidence at the scene that would link him to the murders.
A frantic hunt for Debbie is shadowed by images of her partner Garry and their tiny baby. He begs for Debbie to come home on the nightly news. Four days later, a farmer discovers her body. The public panics and fears of a serial killer grow.
Debbie Fream’s new baby was just 12 days old when she invited a friend over for dinner to show him the baby. In the middle of cooking, she ran out of milk and left the friend with the baby while she went to the local store. She never returned.
After work Thursday 8 July, Roszsa Toth caught the train home to Seaford. Walking in the dark past the Seaford Reserve, Roszsa saw a man watching her. He suddenly lunged and grabbed her. She fought her way from him and was picked up by a passing car.
When Elizabeth Stevens left Tasmania, seeking a career in the army, she stayed with relatives, finally settling in Langwarrin to finish her studies. On a cold Friday night in June, her worried aunt and uncle wait for her, but she doesn’t come home.
The signs were there but no one recognised them as a serial killer in the making. Stalking, ‘accidentally’ ramming women and children with shopping trolleys, pets at the local kindergarten killed and left for the children to find.