Back From The Dead
Natasha Ryan (CBS)
Australia Is Abuzz
Enter Natasha Ryan, the only murder victim we know of who has ever come back to life.
According to Australian crime reporter Paula Doneman, an anonymous letter arrived at the Rockhampton police station suggesting that if someone called a certain phone number they would find Natasha Ryan alive and well.
When they were reunited, Robert Ryan had a million questions, but he couldn't bring himself to ask them. "I just said, "I love you and we'll try to sort through this," he recalls.
Natasha's mother Jenny Ryan had a different reaction. "I hated her," she says. "I could have grabbed her and just shook the hell out of her. But when I seen her...You forget all that. And she looked at me, and she just said to me, 'I'm sorry,' and she had tears rolling down her eyes..."
When Natasha Ryan emerged from hiding, it turned out she'd been hiding less that a mile from her mother's house. She even came down to the beach, but only at night so no one would see her. Natasha had run off with Scott Black, a local deliveryman about 20 years old who had earlier dated her older sister.
Natasha and Scott spent much of the time in a house with tightly drawn curtains. She hid inside a closet anytime someone came to the door.
All of Australia was desperate to hear Natasha's story. But she chose to speak only with reporters who would pay her. We wouldn't, but the Australian version of 60 Minutes did. For $100,000, Natasha revealed how she had spent her days (cooking, sewing, watching television) and showed the famous closet where she had crouched until, one day, the police opened the closet door.
When asked why she did it, Natasha's answer was less than convincing: "I just felt angry at everybody and everything. I didn't want to be at school, I didn't want to be at home, I didn't want to be there in that life," she says.
Natasha's parents say they were both close to their daughter, although they had been divorced for several years. At the time she vanished, Natasha was living with her mom.
After she ran away, Natasha was afraid to go home. "I thought that I would be sent to prison," she says. "I thought that I would be sent away." She insisted that she had run away entirely of her own free will and, despite her age, had not been overly influenced by her adult boyfriend.
Among those who are not sympathetic is Theresa Steinhardt, mother of nine-year-old murder victim Keyra. "Natasha Ryan needs a slap across the face!" she says, adding, "How dare she put her family through that?"
Natasha does not disagree. "I do not want to go to jail. But I do deserve it," she told the media. "I do deserve to be severely punished for what I've done."
And speaking of punishment, why would Leonard Fraser confess to a murder he didn't commit?
Fraser may have been playing with the authorities, giving bits and pieces of false information along with a few factual nuggets. Certainly, the confessed serial killer enjoyed the notoriety.
Quinn, who now perhaps knows the killer better than anyone, agrees: "I believe it's that serial killer thing," he says, adding, "He wants to be known as a serial killer."
Natasha's reappearance came as a relief to everyone, but her deception threw the Fraser murder case into disarray. If Fraser had lied about killing Natasha, could he be lying about his role in the other killings? And, could he get off on a technicality? The whole case seemed about to come apart.
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