Mr Cruel

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Mr. Cruel
Sketch by Nicola Lynas of attacker made by Victoria Police.jpg
Full Name: Unknown (speculated to be Robert Keith Knight or Joseph James DeAngelo)
Alias: Mr. Cruel
Origin: Australia (unknown town, possibly Melbourne, Victoria)
Occupation: Pedophile
Skills: Planning mastery

Large Hunting Knife
Hand gun (Unknown Model)

Hobby: Molesting children
Goals: Kill Karmein Chan

Get away with his crimes (both succeeded)

Crimes: Kidnapping

Child Murder
Evading Justice
Destroying evidence
Possession of Child Porn (Possibly)
Home invasion

Type of Villain: Unidentified Pedophile

My liberty, my freedom, is more important than your life.
~ Mr Cruel (suspected)

"Mr Cruel" is an Australian serial child rapist who attacked three girls in the northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victorian the late 1980s and early 1990s, and is the prime suspect in the abduction and murder of a fourth girl, Karmein Chan. A subsequent newspaper headline referred to the perpetrator as "Mr Cruel," a name adopted by the rest of the media.

In 2019, a documentary revealed that Mr Cruel is suspected of up to twelve other sex attacks dating as far back as 1985.


Little is known about his past, but Police describe him as highly intelligent. He meticulously planned each attack, conducting surveillance on the victim and family, ensured he left no forensic traces, protected his identity by covering his face at all times, and left red herrings to divert family and/or police attention. He was soft-spoken, and his behavior was unhurried, as he took a break during an attack in a victim's house to eat a meal. He threatened to kill his victims with a large hunting knife or a handgun.

Known Cases

  • His first known attack was in 22 August 1987 in Lower Plenty, he broke into a family home at 4 a.m. armed with a knife and a gun. He tied the hands and feet of both parents and locked them in a wardrobe. He tied the son to a bed and raped the 11-year-old daughter. He also suppressed the phone lines, he also ate a meal.
  • His Second known attack 27 December 1988 in Ringwood, he broke into the back door of a house at 5.30 a.m., armed with a knife and a small handgun. He bound and gagged the parents, and demanded money. He grabbed their 10-year-old daughter, Sharon Wills, put tape over her eyes, a ball gag in her mouth and abducted her. She was released eighteen hours later on the grounds of Bayswater High School.
  • His penultimate known attack 3 July 1990 in Canterbury, he broke into a house at 11.30 p.m. and tied and gagged 13-year-old Nicola Lynas. He Blindfolded her, suppressed the phones and searched for money. He then drove her to another house and molested her for fifty hours before releasing her at a power sub-station in the suburb of Kew.
  • His final possible attack 13 April 1991 in Templestowe, a male assailant armed with a knife abducted 13-year-old Karmein Chan (who went to the same school as Lynas). Her body, with three bullet wounds to the head, was found a year later. It has been reported that a few detectives had doubts whether this crime was by Mr Cruel. Detective Chris O'Connor answered a journalist's question in 2013 about whether Mr Cruel was responsible: "we just don't know if it was Mr Cruel who murdered Karmein ... we just can't be sure because there isn't enough evidence to make a value judgement about whether it was or wasn't him in the Karmein case."


Mr Cruel is believed to have videotaped or perhaps taken still photographs of his attacks. Detectives believe that if he is still alive, he will have kept the tapes and/or photos and will still collect, and possibly swap, child pornography. They say he almost certainly continues to collect pornography through the internet and may communicate with children using chat lines. He plans his crimes – for example, in one case he abducted a girl and told her he would release her in exactly 50 hours, and he did. He bathed his victims carefully, with one victim describing the act as "like a mother washing a baby". In one case, he took a second set of clothes from the girl's home to dress her before she was freed. In another, he dumped the girl dressed in garbage bags so police could not test her original clothes. The modus operandi was the same in the home invasions/abductions in the three attacks and victim statements provided confirmation to police it was the same offender.

Two of his victims were able to provide police with details of the house where they were kept. Both were shackled to a bed with a rough neck brace. One told detectives she heard planes landing, leading police to believe the house was on one of the flight paths to Melbourne Airport. Police checked houses in Keilor East, Niddrie, Airport West, Keilor Park and Essendon North.

On 14 December 2010 Victoria Police announced that a new task force had been established about eight months earlier following substantial new intelligence. The new taskforce has been reviewing both the Spectrum Taskforce investigation and some new leads that have come in the last year or so.

Police have searched 30,000 homes and interviewed 27,000 suspects over the attacks, at a cost of $4 million. There is a $300,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Mr Cruel. Police have admitted that some evidence retrieved from the crime scenes at the time has gone missing. One missing item is the tape used to bind one of the victims, which could have provided DNA samples of Mr Cruel using new forensic technologies.

In April 2016, in the lead up to the 25th anniversary of Karmein's murder, Victoria Police released a 1994 dossier (nicknamed the "Sierra files") to the Herald Sun newspaper containing intimate details of the case that had previously not been released to the public. The dossier, which had been prepared with the assistance of the FBI, contained information about seven possible suspects. The newspaper stated that they had obtained the names of these suspects and also attempted to contact them for information, to varying degrees of success. Victoria Police subsequently increased the reward for information to $1 million.