Vic schoolgirl murder takes toll on family

Karmein Chan’s family don’t want to keep reliving the Melbourne schoolgirl’s abduction and murder.


They, and police, want her killer “Mr Cruel” found, even though 25 years have passed.

The child sex offender and kidnapper’s crimes have had a significant impact on all the families involved, Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana says.

So much so that Karmein’s family did not join Mr Fontana when he announced on Wednesday, the 25th anniversary of her abduction, the reward over her murder had been raised to $1 million.

“They don’t want to keep reliving it,” Mr Fontana told reporters.

“It has had a significant impact on that family and I’ve seen that with all the families. They were horrific crimes.”

The man dubbed Mr Cruel is believed to be responsible for at least four child kidnappings and sexual assaults in Melbourne in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Two other girls kidnapped by Mr Cruel were released but Karmein’s remains were found a year after her abduction.

Mr Fontana, a senior member of the original Spectrum task force that investigated the Mr Cruel crimes, said the case has had an enormous impact on the entire Chan family, particularly her mother Phyllis.

“It was an emotional roller coaster for them – and still is,” Mr Fontana said.

He described Karmein’s mother, who was beaten and robbed outside her home in January 1995, as inspirational.

“She’s very supportive of us and the work that’s been done by the task force but it’s had an enormous toll on her,” he said.

“She’s a very resilient woman to be quite honest, quite inspirational in that regard in terms of some of the things that have happened to her since this, unrelated.”

Police have always believed that someone close to the offender would know he was Mr Cruel and would be able to point investigators to evidence to help solve the case, Mr Fontana said.