Derek Percy
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Derek Percy

Derek Ernest Percy (15 September 1948 - 23 July 2013) was an Australian child killer, linked to the mysterious deaths of nine children in the 1960s.[1]

Early life

Percy was born on September 15 1948 in Strathfield, New South Wales, the eldest of three sons of parents Ernest and Elaine Percy. His father had been a New South Wales railway electrician before deciding to take a job with the State Electricity Commission in Victoria, and moving to Chelsea, then to Warrnambool in 1957, and to Mount Beauty, near Bright in 1961.[2] Percy began to attract the attention of authorities in late 1964 as a 16 year old boy when he started stealing and wearing underwear and mutilating dolls with razor blades and knives.[3] In 1965, the family relocated to Khancoban in New South Wales, where he began writing down bizarre and violent sexual fantasies.[2] In 1966, he repeated year 11, then tried year 12, but dropped out and joined the navy as a naval rating in electrical mechanics in November 1967. He was posted to the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne in March 1968, HMAS Sydney (based in Melbourne) on 1 July 1968, and HMAS Cerberus naval base in April 1969.[2]

Criminal investigation

Percy was arrested at Cerberus, adjacent to Crib Point on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, for the murder of 12 year-old Yvonne Tuohy at Ski Beach, near Warneet on Westernport Bay, on 27 July 1969. At the time he abducted Tuohy at knife-point, he also tried to abduct her friend, Shane Spiller, 11, who only escaped by threatening Percy with his tomahawk.[4] Spiller, however, was able to describe to police the abductor and his vehicle, an orange Datsun station wagon with a navy sticker on the back window.[4] Police then went to the Cerberus base and discovered Percy washing blood off his clothes.[5] When questioned, he denied involvement, but eventually led police to her body on Fisheries Road at Devon Meadows, some 8 kilometres (5 mi) from the abduction scene.[5] In 1970, he was found not guilty, by reason of insanity, of the murder of Tuohy, and remanded indefinitely.

Other investigations

Due to the nature of the attack, and based on documents in his possession, he also became a suspect in the Wanda Beach Murders and the Beaumont children disappearance, and in the individual murders of Allen Redston in Canberra in 1966, Linda Stilwell in St Kilda in 1968 and Simon Brook in Sydney in 1968.[3] He repeatedly stated that he could not remember whether or not he had committed any further crimes.[2][4] Detectives then started trying to piece together his movements around Australia at the time of the murders.[2] They were aware the family often took caravan holidays during yachting regattas near beaches (where most of the crimes took place), that his transfers within the navy brought him close to many of the crime scenes, and knew that Percy was harbouring paedophilic and psychopathic fantasies towards children.[1][2] In 2007, a cache of 35 boxes[1] of Percy's diaries, drawings, and newspaper clippings was found in a storage unit in South Melbourne, casting further suspicion on him.[3]

Based on these facts, investigators continued to pursue the following leads for nearly half a century:

  • Wanda Beach case - Percy was known to be visiting his friend's grandparents in Ryde at the time,[5] a house near to the homes of the victims.[6] Based on Identikits, witnesses recalled seeing a young man resembling Percy talking with the girls on the train and at the beach, and he was considered a leading suspect for the murders by the police.[5][7]
  • Beaumont case - Percy admitted to being at Glenelg Beach in Adelaide on a family trip on the day of the disappearance, but denied any involvement.[5]
  • Redston case - Canberra Police issued a description of a fair thin-faced teenager that they wanted to interview, and also released an Identikit image which closely resembled Percy. Percy later told police he had been in the capital, but that he was unable to remember any details.[5]
  • Stilwell case - In October 2014, a year after his death, he was formally ruled to have abducted and killed seven-year-old Linda Stilwell,[8] who disappeared while playing at the St Kilda foreshore in Melbourne on 10 August 1968. At the time, Percy had been transferred to the troop ship HMAS Sydney, and was on leave.[2]
  • Brook case - Percy had been stationed at the Cockatoo Dry Dock on Sydney Harbour at the time, and an Identikit of the suspect was similar to the Redston suspect.[5] A new inquest was held in 2005 with Percy as the prime suspect, but stalled due to lack of evidence.

Death

Percy died from lung cancer in St Vincents Hospital, Melbourne on 23 July 2013, aged 64, without admitting to any further crimes. At the time he was the longest serving prison inmate in Australia, some 44 years.[9]

References

  1. ^ a b c "Child killer Derek Percy was linked to deaths of nine children". ABC. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g John Silvester (22 April 2007). "One man, so many faces of evil". The Age. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Elissa Hunt (24 July 2013). "Derek Percy's mother Elaine admits she 'got rid of things' as cops investigated child serial killings". Herald Sun. Retrieved 2016.
  4. ^ a b c John Silvester (27 July 2013). "A man called Percy, beast without mercy". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "The unsolved murders of child mutilator Derek Percy". NewsComAu. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ "The Wanda Beach Murders/Beaumont Children Mystery". Crime Investigation Australia. Series 1. Episode 11. 2007. Crime & Investigation Network.
  7. ^ Morri, Mark (27 February 2012). "DNA clue could solve 47 year-old Wanda Beach murders". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ "Derek Percy abducted and killed Linda Stilwell in 1968, says coroner". The Guardian. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ Rachel Olding (24 July 2013). "Child killer stays silent on death bed". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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