Police Quiz Killer Over Child Deaths, Beaumonts Mystery
Cold case detectives question Victoria's
longest-serving prisoner over the unsolved
murders of up to eight children.
DETECTIVES yesterday interviewed Victoria's longest-serving
prisoner — killer Derek Ernest
Percy — over his suspected
involvement in the murders of up
to eight children, including Adelaide's Beaumont children.
Percy has been in jail since
1969, when he was arrested for
killing 12-year-old Yvonne Elizabeth Tuohy, whom he abducted
from a Western Port beach in July
of that year, but was found unfit
to plead on the grounds on
But yesterday, police from
Victoria, NSW, South Australia
and the Australian Federal Police
interviewed Percy over the murders of Christine Sharrock and
Marianne Schmidt on Sydney's
Wanda Beach in January 1965;
the disappearance of the three
Beaumont children, Jane, Arnna
and Grant, in Adelaide in 1966;
Alan Redston, a six-year-old
murdered in Canberra in September 1966; Simon Brook, a
young boy killed in Sydney in
1968; and Linda Stillwell, 7,
abducted from St Kilda in August
1968, The disappearance of Jane,
aged 9. Arnna, 7, and four-year-
old Grant near Glenelg beach, on
Australia Day 1966, remains one
of Australia s most baffling mysteries.
Yesterday's move came after
police were granted a magistrate's order to interview Percy,
who was moved from Ararat
prison and taken to the homicide
offices in St Kilda Road.
He was interviewed for several hours before being driven
back to the city watchhouse.
It is believed Percy was non-
committal in some of his
answers over the unsolved murders when interviewed by
police, parole officers, psychiatrists and prison officers
over the decades, he has always
But diaries and notes seized
from his cells have shown
detailed plans to abduct, abuse
and kill children. The Age
revealed in 1998 that Percy was
still considered a suspect in the
eight unsolved murders.
Police have been able to
establish that Percy was near the
scene where the children were
abducted, either while on holidays or while stationed at military bases while serving as a
One of the original homicide
detectives, Dick Knight, who
became a respected assistant
commissioner, believed that
Percy had killed before he
attacked Yvonne Tuohy. He
argued that no one could have
committed the Western Port
murder "cold" and that it was
likely he was responsible for earlier crimes.
When he was questioned
about the Sydney murders after
he was first arrested, Percy told
police: "I could have done it but 1
On September 30, 1998,
Supreme Court judge Geoffrey
Eames refused to set a minimum
sentence for Percy. "He has demonstrated no significant remorse
or anxiety, at least none which I
find credible, as to the circumstances which caused him to
kill," the judge said.
In similar circumstances to
those of the Beaumonts, Linda
Stillwell was taken from St Kilda
and her body was never found.
Percy abducted and killed
Yvonne Tuohy while on weekend
leave from the Cerberus navy
base. She was playing on the
beach with a young friend. Shane
Spiller, who told The Age 30 years
later: "They always thought he'd
killed others but they weren't
able to prove it."
One prison officer told The
Age: "He was the chess champion, a stamp collector and one
of the best tennis players in the
division. He's highly intelligent
but you could never get a handle
on his real feelings," he said.
"He's our Hannibal Lecter."
Percy, 55, is a smoker who
still keeps himself fit. One police
source said: "He's intelligent,
cunning and pure evil. There is
no way he is mad."
In 1984, Pentridge Prison Co-Ordinator of Forensic Psychiatry
Services, Dr Stephens, wrote:
"Percy is sexually grossly
disturbed and should never
be released from prison."
Dr Stephens described Percy
as "a highly dangerous, sadistic
pedophile who should never be
released from safe custody. He is
not certifiable, neither is he psychiatrically treatable and he is
totally unsuited to a mental institution.
"If Percy is ever so transferred, he will, in all probability,
earn some degree of freedom as
the result of reasonable and conforming behaviour. The consequences of such freedom could
well prove tragic."
The Age (3-2-2005)