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In April, 1999, schoolgirl Keyra Steinhardt was bashed, raped and murdered in a brazen daylight attack as she walked home from school in the central Queensland town of Rockhampton. The disappearance of Keyra made international headlines as the community and law enforcement officers hunted for the nine-year-old. No one uttered it out loud, but everyone knew they were searching for a body.
When her killer, Leonard Fraser, finally led them to her two weeks later, it was the catalyst that went on to expose him as a murderous sexual predator. In 2000 he was found guilty of Keyra's murder. In 2003, he was tried in the Bribane Supreme Court for the murders of three women and a teenage girl in Rockhampton between December 1998 and April 1999. During the trial teenager Natasha Ryan was found alive hiding in the cupboard of her boyfriend's Rockhampton home - her emergence presented an intriguing twist in the story of this brutal and cunning killer. He was convicted for the murder of Beverley Leggo and Sylvia Benedetti and the manslaughter of Julie Dawn Turner.
Fraser is a suspect in up to eight unsolved disappearances of women in Queensland and NSW, although no remains have been found. He was serving four indefinite life sentences until his death on New Year's Day 2007 when he died of a heart attack in a Brisbane prison hospital.
In this overwrought police procedural, Australian investigative journalist Doneman examines the case of serial rapist and murderer Leonard Fraser, who by 2003 was reviled throughout central Queensland as one of the most vicious criminals in modern Australian history. Caught stealing at age 15, Fraser served two stints in a local boys' home whose alumnae, according to locals and officials, have wound up "committing some of the country's most heinous crimes." When Fraser was released in 1968, he began the next phase of his criminal career: raping, and later murdering, a succession of women. It was Fraser's 1999 murder of 9-year-old Keyra Steinhardt that would eventually end Fraser's 30-year criminal career and condemn him to four life sentences in prison. Readers accustomed to dispassionate, objective reporting may have difficulty with the emotional and incredulous tone that pervades Doneman's writing. In addition, attribution is infrequent and organization of the timeline proves confusing. Still, Fraser's striking story makes for a page-turning look at the development of a serial killer and the inadequacies of a penal system that, despite correctional staff who "were confident Fraser would kill," set him loose.