Back From The Dead
Natasha Ryan (CBS)
Kookaburra And Crocodiles
From its unspoiled beaches to its desolate outback, Australia is a continent filled with great beauty. But if you're not careful there's great danger, too. There are the furry, friendly animals we all know about. But there are also sharks that can take your head off, rivers filled with crocodiles, deadly spiders and vicious snakes. As the Australians say, "if you're not prepared, there're no 'beg your pardons!'"
It's true: There are more creatures that can kill you in Australia than anywhere else on earth. People who live Down Under have learned to live with them.
But there is one dangerous animal that they have never come to terms with: the human predator.
It all began with the disappearance of a 9-year-old girl named Keyra Steinhardt. The little girl was snatched in broad daylight, as she was walking home from school along a main road.
The news shocked the residents of Rockhampton. This is a small town near the Great Barrier Reef, known as the region's beef capital. "We don't wake up to the sounds of sirens and cars and things," says Mark, a local barber. "We wake up to the sound of kookaburra and kangaroos grazing on the front lawn."
The whole town joined an around-the-clock search for Keyra, from cops in cruisers to cowboys on horseback to Cub Scouts on foot.
The night Keyra vanished, police picked up their suspect, who had been spotted in her neighborhood. He was a local oddball with a history of violence.
Everyone seemed to know about Leonard John Fraser, the man with the icy stare. He was a meat cutter at the local slaughterhouse, and he had done time in prison for assault. "I don't think you'd really want to meet him in a dark alley, to be honest," says Detective Darren Lees. "First thing he said to me was, 'I'm no child molester.'"
But Fraser refused to confess.
While searchers probed the banks of the crocodile-infested Fitzroy River looking for Keyra, Lees searched Fraser's car for clues. He found blood in and around the side of the vehicle that was later positively identified as Keyra's blood.
In jail and under police pressure, Fraser finally cracked and led detectives to Keyra's body.
As Prosecutor Paul Rutledge reconstructs the crime, Lenny Fraser attacked Keyra as she was walking home from school, knocking her to the ground. Investigators believe he raped the victim at the scene. At some point, she was murdered with a cut to the throat. The murderer put the body in the boot of his car and dumped it in a bush area outside the town. The body would remain there for about two weeks.
When Keyra's body finally was found and her family arranged for her funeral, hundreds came to say goodbye to the little girl, including many who had helped search for her. By that point, says her mother, Theresa, "Keyra was everyone's daughter."
Then, the police made another gruesome discovery. More blood -- different blood - was found in Fraser's car. The discovery put the authorities and all of Rockhampton into a panic.
Had other people disappeared since Lenny Fraser hit town? The answer was yes, four of them. Sylvia Benedetti, age 19, was missing, as was Beverly Leggo, 37, and Julie Turner, 39. Most ominously, another young schoolgirl, a 14-year-old, was unaccounted for.
Her name was Natasha Ryan. Natasha Ryan was lovingly nicknamed "Grasshopper," says her father, Robert Ryan, because "when she was little she'd -- instead of crawl -- she'd hop here or hop over to there, or something like that."
Natasha was last seen alive outside a Rockhampton movie theatre. The disappearance of the free-spirited teenager was soon national news, and all of Australia became obsessed with her fate. As news reports soon made clear, police feared that the teenager was another victim of a serial killer.
But if Lenny Fraser had murdered Natasha and the other missing women, he wasn't admitting it, according to Dave Hickey, who led the homicide task force on the case. There was no crime scene, no body and no tangible evidence. Every lead had been exhausted.
Their frustration convinced authorities to go along with a wild scheme put together by a man you'd never suspect of wanting to help the police: Allan Quinn, self-described as "Australia's greatest con man."
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