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Frankston Serial Killer Case Study

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Updated: Nov 20th, 2019

In the year 1993, three women were brutally murdered in the streets of Frankston in Australia. The brutal attacks occurred over a span of 2 months. In these series of crimes, one woman was lucky and escaped with minor bodily injuries. During their investigations, the police noted that the serial killer targeted the women and selected them randomly.

With the help, of forensic experts the killer was identified to be Paul Charles Denyer (Petraitis, 2011). Later, several detectives arrested him at his residence. The police asserted that the suspect never resisted arrest as they expected. Upon his arrest, the police described Denyer as a plump and a dysfunctional misfit. During the police interrogation, Denyer admitted that he derived his pleasures by engaging in horrifying crimes.

Similarly, the suspect informed the detectives that he hated all women for no apparent reason (Gibson, 2004). Surprisingly, the killer asserted that he had been planning to commit murder ever since he was 14 years old. In this regard, this paper seeks to analyze the Serial Killer’s background, crimes, conviction, and investigate the motives behind his horrifying crimes.

Early life

Paul Charles Denyer, the Frankston Serial killer, was born on14, April 1972 in Campbeltown, Australia (Petraitis, 2011). Denyer’s parents are Maureen and Anthony Denyer. He is the middle child in the family of five children. Before attending kindergarten, Denyer’s mother noted that Denyer rarely related with his brothers. His mother blamed his condition on an earlier accident where Denyer had hurt his head after falling from a chair.

When his family moved from Campbeltown to Victoria, his parents noted that he had difficulties in adjusting to the new environment. At his new school, Denyer avoided the company of other students and depicted a low self-esteem. Psychologists have linked his low self-esteem with his body size. Unlike other students, Denyer was tall and overweight. In school, instead of engaging with other boys of his age, he was obsessed with the collection of knives and dummy guns.

Similarly, his teachers reported that he physically assaulted some of his fellow pupils. At home, his sister accused him of dissecting her teddy bear. At a tender age, Denyer’s hatred for animals was apparent. He killed their family cat and hanged it on a tree. All these weird acts and behaviors were early signs that Denyer was a unique and troublesome child (Petraitis, 2011).

Before the age of 15, Denyer had been in and out of the police custody for stealing a car and raising a false fire alarm (Petraitis, 2011). As a youth, Denyer got a job at a local warehouse store. At his place of work, his workmates were surprised by his anti social habits. On one occasion, he was accused by a workmate for slaughtering two goats within the neighborhood.

Remarkably, his workmates reported that Denyer spent most of his time creating crude weapons such as knives and daggers. Before being fired, his boss noted that Denyer hardly ever associated with the workmates; instead, he spent most of his time in privacy.

In the year 1992, Denyer met Sharon Johnson while working at a supermarket. The two had a healthy relationship thereafter. Later, he was fired from the supermarket after he intentionally assaulted a female customer. After being dismissed, Denyer applied for a position in the police force.

However, his position was rejected due to his body size and weight (Petraitis, 2011). Before the end of the year 1992, Denyer had turned into a social outcast. He was no longer able to sustain any job due to his attitude and laziness. At this stage, he had developed a liking for horror films.

After losing his job, he moved into an apartment with her girlfriend at Frankston. It was not long before his girlfriend noted his peculiar behaviors and attitudes. In the neighborhood, the neighbors reported that soon after his arrival unusual things started happening in the vicinity (Petraitis, 2011). One of their neighbors reported that one day after coming from the workplace; she found her house broken into and her engagement pictures dismantled. Another tenant claimed that she found Denyer peeping at her through her window.

One of the most bizarre incident happened to Tricia and her sister Donna who were living in the same next door to Denyer. On 12, February 1993, Donna and Tricia arrived home from their workplace only to find their room smeared with blood. On the floor lay the remains of their kitten. The kitten had been brutally killed, and one eye protruded from its socket. On the television set were writings written with blood reading, “Donna you are dead.”

Donna later noted that the room had been ransacked and her clothes strewn. Out of fear, Donna and her sister did not spend the night in their apartment (Petraitis, 2011). Instead, they spend the night at Denyer’s apartment, not knowing that Denyer was behind their tribulations. Donna later reported that Denyer assured her that he and the police would help her to identify the man behind the bizarre incident.

Murder crimes

In 12, June1993, a body of a female was found on Cranbourne Road. The victim was later identified as Elizabeth Stevens. Stevens was an 18-year-old student living in the neighborhood. Previously, her guardian had reported to the police that the girl was missing. The forensic experts noted that the girl’s body had several deep cuttings on her waist, chest, and head.

Later, a post mortem report indicated that the girl had been sexually assaulted before being killed. Upon further investigations, police noted that the victim had no enemies, and pointed out that the killer was a serial killer on the loose. In an attempt to arrest the serial killer, the police interrogated several individuals within the District, but their attempt was futile.

On 8, July 1993, a female pedestrian, Roszsa Toth, was attacked on her way home from the walk place (Petraitis, 2011). Toth reported that the attacker approached her with a gun and tried to push her into a nearby bush. Toth fought back, biting the attacker’s arm before she ran away having her clothes torn. Upon her escape, the victim phoned the police who arrived at the scene within some few minutes. On arrival, the police found that the attacker had fled from the scene.

On the same night, a woman by the named Debbie Fream disappeared after she had gone to buy her 12-day-old son some milk in the nearby shop. A farmer found her mutilated body several days later in his paddocks (Newton, 2000). Her body had been stabbed several times, and her neck strangled. Later the police linked the attack of Roszsa and the murder of Debbie to the same serial killer who had killed Stevens a few months earlier.

Following the two horrific murders, the women in Frankston district were scared and started locking themselves indoors at night .At the same period, there were several speculations on the media on who the serial killer was and his whereabouts. The police relentlessly followed every possible lead to the serial killer.

Similarly, the District government officials opened a help center, which advised women on how to avoid being attacked by the serial killer. According to the District officials, the center was also meant to provide the women with some crucial lessons on how to react to the looming attacks (Newton, 2000).

Despite the heavy security set up by the law enforcers, on the night of 30th, July 1993, a 17-year-old student was reported missing by her parents. Upon her reports, the police deployed a manhunt for the serial killer. Nine hours after the report of her missing, the body of the missing girl was found. The body was found in a bush having been stabbed severally in the face and the neck. Forensic experts noted that as compared to the previous murders, the murder of the 17th year old girl was extremely terrifying.

The body was severely mutilated. During the investigation, the forensic experts identified that during the third murder the serial killer had left enough evidence to be proofed guilty in case he could be seized. The forensic experts postulated that the killer had cut himself during the fight with her victim. Because of the fight, the killer had left a flesh stuck in the girl’s forehead.

A law enforcer provided another crucial lead to the killer. One of the police officers had earlier spotted a yellow Toyota corona at the scene where the girl was murdered. Luckily, the police officer had noted down the car’s details from its registration details (Gibson, 2004). The police officer asserted that he was prompted to record the car details after he noted that the car had no number plates.

With these crucial leads, the police investigators crosschecked the cars details in their database. The results indicated that the Car was registered under the name Paul Charles Denyer. Immediately, after the breakthrough the police went to the suspect’s house and found the house locked (Newton, 2000).

The police left a card informing him to contact them as soon as possible. Later on, the detectives drove to the suspect’s residents. Upon arrival, Denyer answered their door and informed them that the number of detectives who had visited him surprised him. At the time, the police noted that Denyer was with his girlfriend. Upon interrogation the suspect admitted that he had been spotted near the two scenes, however he denied any involvement in the killings.

The suspect was taken to the police custody for further interrogation. In the police custody, the suspect maintained his innocence until his blood samples were taken for DNA analysis. When he realized that a DNA analysis would link him to the murder, he admitted to the police that he was involved in the murder of all the three victims (Newton, 2000).


Upon his arraignment in court, the court charged Denyer for the murder of the three women, and an attempted sexual assault on Roszsa. In the December of 1993, Denyer pleaded guilty of murder and attempted sexual assault.

During the court session, the clinical pathologist asserted that the killer had no apology for his crimes, and that he had admitted that he enjoyed doing the horrifying acts. During the court sessions, the killer blamed several incidences during his earlier life for contributing to his crimes. The suspect claimed that as a boy his younger brother had sexually assaulted him.

Similarly, the killer claimed that unemployment was a major factor that led him to murder young women. With these claims, the psychologists rejected his excuses. According to one of the psychologists, numerous individuals had undergone through the same tribulations, but never resorted to similar crimes (Waller, 2010). The Psychologist suggested that throughout his careers, Denyer’s case was unique and unsubstantiated.

According to the psychologist, Denyer was an extraordinary serial killer who killed his victims randomly without any apparent reason. Owing to his character, the psychologist informed the court that Denyer was a threat to the community as a whole (Waller, 2010). The psychologist added that according to their evaluation, Denyer was unfit to be released into the society since he derived his pleasure from murdering innocent people.

On the 23, December 1993, Denyer was sentenced to life imprisonment for his horrific crimes. Later, Denyer appealed on his sentence, and on the year 1994, the court sentenced him to 30 years in prison. The families of the victims accused the courts for their leniency. For them, Denyer was a criminal deserving a lifetime imprisonment, never to be released into the society.

While in prison, Denyer has raised numerous controversies. His brother who fled Australia during the year 1992, after Denyer threatened to kill his family, recently revealed that he had received a letter from him. The letter claimed that Denyer knows his whereabouts, and that he was planning to break out of prison to kill him.

Similarly, Denyer surprised everyone when he urged the state to be allowed to change his sex status through reconstructive surgery. However, the state denied his bid. According to the government, if such individuals were to be allowed to change their sex status, the government would find it hard to monitor them once they are released (Newton, 2000).

In Denyer’s letters, written to his brother, he calls himself by the name Paula (Petraitis, 2011). In prison the serial killer dresses like a woman and claims that in the future he will change his name legally to Paula.

While in prison, the serial killer has become very notorious for his peculiar demands from the state. These allegations have caused public outrage as the families of the victims continue to be tormented by his notoriety. According to those who opposed the court’s decision to jail the killer for 30 years, they believe that Denyer will one day walk out of the prison.

To them, his crimes should be a warning to the legislators to pass appropriate laws to tackle serial killers (Newton, 2000). Recent studies have indicated that serial killers rarely change their habits. The studies compare them to incurable diseases. This implies that the governments need to act swiftly to contain and prevent serial killers from engaging in horrifying acts in the society.


Gibson, D. C. (2004). Clues from killers: serial murder and crime scene messages. Westport, Conn : Praeger.

Newton, M. (2000). The encyclopedia of serial killers. New York: Facts on File.

Petraitis, V. (2011). The Frankston serial killer (2nd ed.). Bittern, Vic.: Clan Destine Press.

Waller, S. (2010). Serial Killers – Philosophy for Everyone: being and killing. Malden: Wiley Blackwell.

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