Killer Next Door

02.03.2019

tags: Homicide, Queensland,

discussion: 0 comments

By Denise Cullen

From the March 2019 issue of the APJ.

JUNE 1999

Twilight was turning to darkness when 17-year-old Nicole* stepped off the bus and started walking towards her home in Brisbane. It was the same route she took every day. She didn’t notice the stranger watching her—hadn’t seen him on the other days either—so she was blindsided when she felt his hot breath on her neck as he seized her and forced her into the boot of his car. He drove, and drove. She gathered her wits. Fought back. Screamed. Kicked out the tail light of his car. Then he stopped, opened the boot, said something – she doesn’t recall what. She noticed a thick roll of packaging tape in his hand.

“Are you going to tie me up with that?” she said. “Please don’t.” 

There was something about her manner which softened his resolve. He invited her to sit in the front seat, placing the packaging tape on the seat between them. He started to drive again. Nicole spotted a knife in the centre console.

“Are you going to kill me?”

“Nope.” 

He grabbed the knife and threw it out of the car window. “I’m notgonna kill you.”

But he indicated, in crude terms, that he still intended to tie her up and rape her. Nicole cast about for a means of escape. A diversion. She offered the man some cannabis. The gesture seemed to calm him down. After driving still further, he released her, without causing her further harm. When police located her abductor, he pleaded guilty to a charge of having assaulted Nicole with intent to rape her, and with having detained her against her will with intent to carnally know her. He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. Though prison authorities opposed his early release to parole in 2002, he was back out in in the community in less than three years.

31 AUGUST 2004 

It wasn’t like Nina Lewis not to show up for work. Unable to reach her by phone that Tuesday, Nina’s boss at the Goodna Cash Converters and two workmates went around to her home in the Ipswich suburb of Leichhardt. There, they found her car missing, her front door unlocked, and the house in disarray. Telephone logs show that Nina’s concerned colleagues called police at 2.48pm.

The officers who came to take the missing person’s report shared Nina’s colleagues’ sense of dread. Toilet rolls, an opened packet of washing powder and a doona had been used to block up the overflowing spa bath. Hot water flooded the house. Condensation clung to the ceiling. Undissolved laundry powder was scattered on the tiled and wooden floors. The double bed had been stripped of linen, and pillows and cushions haphazardly piled atop the mattress. Though the house had been ransacked, Lewis’s mobile phone, wallet and handbag, sat untouched on the kitchen table. Responding officers noted cash lying on the floor, in plain sight. Whatever this bizarre scene was about, it wasn’t money ...

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