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The Rockhampton Rapist

Leonard Fraser became a serial rapist and serial killer, convicted of the brutal killing of nine-year-old Keyra Steinhardt, in Rockhampton in 1999. Prior to this, he had already served 20 years in prison for raping a number of women.

Fraser’s childhood was outwardly normal, but he struggled in school. Although he dreamed of joining the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang and dabbled in crime as a teenager, there was nothing to suggest that Fraser the car thief, pimp and robber would evolve to become a brutal rapist and merciless killer.

When Leonard John Fraser - born in Ingham, Queensland, Australia - was convicted in 1972 of committing a series of robberies and sentenced to serve five years hard labour, police officers investigating his offences were unaware that, two months before, he had raped a French tourist in Sydney’s Botanical Gardens.

Fraser was tried and convicted of two rapes and two attempted rapes in 1974. During the trial, the court-appointed psychiatrist observed that the rapist was beyond help - he was so dangerous because he had no conscience, and actually believed that his victims really wanted to have sex with him.

Fraser eventually confessed to five murders. Women victims had either been flogged to death or bled to death like slaughtered animals. At his subsequent trial for the ferocious killings, he was described by the judge as a sexual predator who was a danger to both the community and his fellow prisoners. Inmates who shared the Wolston Correction Centre with Fraser had an apt name for their violent, unpredictable, serial killing cellmate - they called him “Lenny the Loon”.

Fraser was a “souvenir” keeper and hoarded many items taken from his victims, including three ponytails cut from the heads of three victims. However, the owners of these ponytails were not amongst Fraser’s known victims and these women have never been identified.

Fraser had a signature, “calling card” method of seizing his victims. He would follow women as they walked along quiet stretches of road. He’d sneak up behind them, grab an arm, twist it, and force it up behind his victim’s back. Have gained total control of the woman, he would propel her to a secluded place and subject her to a violent rape and hideous death. 

Fraser was alleged to have murdered a 14-year-old called Natasha Ryan. However, Ryan made a sensational reappearance during Fraser’s trial, five years after she had been placed on the police missing persons’ list. It was then revealed that she had been living in secret with her boyfriend. When Ryan returned from the dead, she tried to sell her story to the press for an estimated $250,000.

At Fraser’s trial on 13th June 2003, the judge described him as an “untreatable psychopath” before convicting him on two counts of murders, and one count of manslaughter, and sentencing him to serve three indefinite jail terms. On 31st December 2006, Fraser died in his sleep in a hospital, from a fatal heart attack. Criminologists suspect he took the secrets of many unsolved murders to the grave.