Police seek deathbed murder confession

Last updated 06:34 17/07/2013
DEREK ERNEST PERCY
DEREK ERNEST PERCY: Dying of lung cancer in hospital.

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Police are hoping a man accused of being Australia's worst child killer will make a deathbed confession.

Derek Ernest Percy, Victoria's longest-serving prisoner, is dying of lung cancer in hospital.

He is in palliative care at the secure ward of St Vincent's Hospital and has been told he will not survive.

Police were told he was unlikely to live more than two weeks.

Detectives regularly visited Percy after he was diagnosed in the hope he would make a deathbed confession.

But while not denying any of the crimes he has not implicated himself. ''He just says it might have been him, he just doesn't remember,'' an investigator said.

It has been Percy's consistent line since he was first arrested 44 years ago as a young naval rating.

Detectives are expected to approach the frail inmate again.

Percy, who has been linked to the deaths and disappearance of nine children, has tried to avoid giving evidence at the inquest into the murder of Linda Stilwell, who was last seen playing on the St Kilda foreshore on August 10, 1968.

He has been in custody since his arrest hours after the murder of Yvonne Elizabeth Tuohy, 12, who was abducted from the beach at Warneet on July 27, 1969.

Percy, now 64, was found not guilty on the grounds of insanity and remains in custody.

In 2004 then Senior Detective Wayne Newman was instructed to prepare a Coroner's brief for an inquest into the case of Linda Stilwell. What he uncovered linked Percy to a series of unsolved murders and abductions.

It resulted in a two-year operation that named Percy as a suspect in the murders of Christine Sharrock and Marianne Schmidt on Sydney's Wanda Beach in 1965; the Beaumont children (Jane, 9, Arnna, 7, and Grant, 4) abducted in Adelaide, in 1966; Allen Redston, 6, murdered in Canberra, in 1966; Simon Brook, 3, killed in Sydney in 1968; and Linda Stilwell.

When Percy was arrested, police found maps, one with a line drawn past the spot where Linda Stilwell was last seen.

A woman told police she saw Linda at St Kilda the day she disappeared near a man wearing a dark spray jacket.

When Percy was arrested for the Tuohy murder, he was photographed wearing the same style of jacket.

In 2007 police found boxes filled with material from Percy in a storage depot. It included clippings on sex crimes, stories on child abductions and items that appeared to implicate him in unsolved murders.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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