Inside the mind of killer ‘monster’
AT THE age of just 13, Lloyd Clark Fletcher began showing disturbing signs of his future as a violent sexual sadist who would escalate to killing.
It was the early 1970s, and before his 14th birthday Fletcher was charged as a juvenile with "aggravated assault on a female" and discharged into his mother's care.
The attack happened on a bridge, which narrowed the victim's chances of escape, a pattern that would develop in his life of offending.
By the age of 15, Fletcher had been charged again with the aggravated assault of a female after breaking into a house "with intent".
At 16, by which time he had been placed into juvenile detention three times, he was arrested for driving without a licence.
Before he turned 17, Fletcher was sent to a juvenile detention centre for shooting cows - all young female beasts known as heifers - with a rifle.
As leading forensic psychiatrist Donald Grant says of the young Lloyd Fletcher, "violence towards animals in childhood is generally seen as a predictor of later violence towards people".
Queensland's first State Director of Forensic Psychiatry, Dr Grant writes about what drove Fletcher in his new book Killer Instinct - Having A Mind for Murder.
Dr Grant has concluded that "sexual arousal, rage towards women, and a wish to inflict pain and humiliation upon his victims" led to Fletcher's sadistic violence.
And that had his "psychopathic sadism at an earlier age" been recognised, young women could have been spared.
He says Lloyd's "sexually motivated assaults … at such a young age" were a "serious concern".
Released after 18 months in juvenile detention, Lloyd was soon arrested again for dangerous, unlicensed and drink driving.
He was 19 years old and living in the Far North Queensland town of Innisfail when, in 1977, he committed the first of his chilling sexual offences against women as an adult.
The victim, who Dr Grant calls Cynthia, was 20 years old and walking home from netball practice across the Jubilee Bridge over the Johnstone River which runs through Innisfail.
A man appeared from behind the bridge pylons and dragged her by the hair off the path and down an embankment.
Lloyd Fletcher covered Cynthia's mouth as she tried to scream and held a knife at her throat and told her to do as he said or he'd cut it.
He dragged her into the riverside parkland and raped her, then ordered her to get dressed.
As Cynthia was doing this, Lloyd grabbed her throat and choked her until she blacked out.
Lloyd dragged her on to a narrow jetty above the river and after she came to, he punched her hard twice in the mouth and again she blacked out.
When she regained consciousness, she was in the crocodile-infested Johnstone River with her bra so tightly knotted around her neck, she could hardly breathe.
Cynthia somehow made it to the riverbank and stumbled up through mangroves to a house, where a woman cut off the bra and called the police.
Down the highway driving south, police stopped a speeding vehicle in which they found Lloyd Fletcher drunk and unlicensed.
He was charged with Cynthia's rape and attempted murder, but would serve only nine out of a maximum 15 years in prison.
In March 1987, he would emerge aged in his late twenties to hurt women again.
Only this time, Fletcher would finish off his victim and, in the short term at least, get away with it.
This meant he was free to prey on his preferred victims, teenage girls.
Fletcher was the son of a mechanic who moved around his family of seven children from town to town.
His volatile mother threw objects during arguments, once "notably flinging a knife at her husband … and causing an injury to his back".
Dr Grant believes Fletcher's father might have been "repeatedly running from trouble" and that the boy himself may have been sexually abused.
He left school after eighth grade and worked on a fishing trawler before his repeated teenage incarcerations for assaulting women and killing animals.
Like his mother, Fletcher had problems controlling anger, and was introverted, defensive.
But Dr Grant says that Fletcher but was unwilling to "explain the monster within … who'd randomly carried out violent, sadistic crimes against innocent young women".
"The interplay of sadistic sexual violence, rape and murder," Dr Grant writes in his book, "is difficult to understand.
"The kind of sadism involved in sadistic rape and murder … is forced and extreme.
"There may be mutilation before and after death carried out to fulfil a long-held secret fantasy.
"Such terrible offences are usually preceded by years of preparation, with much mental rehearsal of precisely how events will unfold.
"Lloyd Fletcher indicated that he hated the monstrous part of himself that allowed these offences to occur.
"Attempting to talk or think about them made him physically ill."
What he did to 15-year-old schoolgirl Janet Phillips less than five months after being released from prison for the Innisfail attack on Cynthia, Fletcher would deny for years afterwards.
It was July 18, 1987, a Saturday evening and year 10 student Janet Phillips, 15, had gone to the 21st birthday party of a family friend in Wynnum, a bayside suburb in Brisbane's southeast.
Living at his family's home at the time in Wynnum was Lloyd Fletcher, on parole but largely unsupervised and in possession of a car, a Datsun 180B.
Janet had dressed up for the party in a black skirt with a black jumper against the winter cold, and wore her hair short and spiky and punk style makeup.
Her parents took a photograph of her before accompanying their daughter to the Guardian Angels Hall in Wynnum, where she spent the night chatting and drinking Coca Cola.
Janet's mother Barbara left her daughter and husband at the party, going home at 11pm.
Around 1am, a group of rowdy gatecrashers arrived at the party and Janet's father confronted them, and amid bottles and a door smashing, Janet ran from party in tears to walk home.
She never arrived.
The next morning a man walking his dog on the nearby Gateway Motorway, 5km from the Guardian Angels Hall, saw someone in a culvert at the bottom of a steep embankment.
It was Janet Phillips' naked body lying near a few blouse buttons and some jewellery.
She had bruises on her face and forehead, and had been fatally stabbed four times.
Injuries to the lower half of her body, Dr Grant writes, were "suggestive of some kind of depraved sexual violence".
Forensic investigators believed the killer had tried to wash traces of Janet's rape from her body: mud was found inside her genitalia.
The autopsy revealed slashes made post mortem of Janet's buttocks and lower abdomen, and despite the killer's efforts, degraded sperm samples were recovered.
As the schoolgirl's murder made the news, a witness reporting seeing a Datsun near the scene.
When police interviewed the recently released rapist, he denied being in the area, and DNA evidence in 1987 was not conclusive.
But Lloyd Fletcher left town nonetheless, with his older brother's partner, a prison officer he'd met while serving his previous sentence.
They moved to the country town of Bright near the Victorian snowfields, and for 18 months life was uneventful.
In 1989, Donna Rupp was a 13-year-old living on Bright's outskirts.
Following a school sports day, she was riding her bicycle alone on a rough road through a forested area approaching a single lane bridge about 1km from home when Fletcher passed her in his car, pulling ahead and stopping to walk back as she cycled across.
Donna didn't recognise the man.
Fletcher approached Donna and grabbed the handlebars of her bicycle, ordering her to dismount.
Donna tried to flee, screaming, but she tripped, skinning her knees and forehead on the road.
Fletcher then overtook her, held a knife to her throat and his hand over her mouth, and calmly ordered her to walk back across the bridge.
Two cars approached, and Fletcher tried to pretend he was walking arm in arm with the teenager, but somehow Donna made eye contact with one of the drivers and a hand signal which conveyed her terror.
The car stopped and two men got out and approached Fletcher and Donna, upon which he fled with the men in pursuits.
After threatening them, Fletcher was cornered and threw away his knife and police arrived.
At his trial on charges of kidnapping and recklessly causing injury, Fletcher told the court that he had just wanted to talk with Donna.
The judge noted that the attack was similar to Fletcher's rape and attempted murder of Cynthia in Innisfail 12 years earlier, in that he threatened the victim with a knife on a bridge.
He sentenced Fletcher to a maximum six years in prison, of which he served four.
Released on parole, Fletcher returned north to Brisbane, back to the suburb of Wynnum.
Dr Grant says that including his offending as a juvenile, Fletcher had been sadistically harming women or girls for 25 years, and served 15 years behind bars.
"But the time he'd spent locked away from society had made no difference to his dangerous sexual sadism," Dr Grant writes.
In April, 1997, a 16-year-old girl Dr Grant identifies only as Jenny was out on a Saturday night visiting clubs with workmates from the supermarket where she was a checkout operator.
Jenny still lived at home with her parents and younger brother in Wynnum.
She had a fake ID to get her into clubs and her workmates were all over 18, and bought the alcohol which made Jenny "a little tipsy" by the time she caught the last train home to Wynnum station.
It was 1.30am on Sunday when she alighted at the station, which was deserted apart from a middle-aged man standing in the shadows near the exit.
He asked her for a light and said he had been waiting for his sister.
Jenny started across the car par, relieved until she was grabbed from behind by the man who held a knife to her throat and punched her hard in the face.
He placed her in a headlock, told her to stop screaming and that she'd be dead if she didn't co-operate.
Fletcher dragged Jenny to a car, tied her up with a rope in the back seat and began to molest her. When she screamed again, he throttled her until she blacked out, and when she regained consciousness, she began screaming again.
Suddenly she heard shouting and felt herself pulled out the car by a person who assured her was safe and the b*stard wasn't going to get her.
Three teenage boys walking home from a party had heard her screams and came to her rescue.
As Fletcher fled in his car, one of the boys smashed his windscreen with a rock and another took down the registration number.
In the back of Lloyd Fletcher's car was Jenny's blood.
He had left his DNA on the rope during the attack in the same suburb Janet Phillips had been raped and murdered.
Police found Fletcher at Sandgate train station, preparing to leave town.
The 39-year-old admitted abducting and punching Jenny, but said he could remember nothing else.
A decade on from Janet Phillips' grisly murder, DNA science had evolved considerably and Fletcher's blood matched the profile of the semen found on the teen's body.
Police charged Fletcher over Jenny's train station attack with deprivation of liberty, assault occasioning bodily harm, disabling in order to commit rape, and attempted murder.
Dr Grant says police believed Lloyd Fletcher "represented one of the most serious and grotesque examples of recurrent offending by a violent sexual sadist".
In 1998, his trial judge noted that he had dragged three women from a public place with a knife and subjected them to severe violence leaving them physically and emotionally scarred.
His psychiatrist Joel Smith said the fact Fletcher returned to Wynnum, near the scene of his 1987 murder of 15-year-old schoolgirl Janet Phillips, suggested it was a "rehearsed sadistic fantasy".
Dr Smith said in 1997 when Fletcher preyed on the schoolgirl he chose her because she "had the same hair colour" and "height" as his ex-wife who had recently dumped him.
In a chilling twist when Fletcher saw "fear" in the girl's eyes it triggered him to strangle and beat her, Dr Grant said in his report to the court.
Fletcher was given an indefinite sentence for Janet Phillips' murder.
Thirteen years later in 2011, Dr Grant was asked to assess Lloyd Fletcher at a time he would normally be eligible for parole in a life sentence, which in Queensland is 20 years.
The court would decide whether to continue his indefinite detention, after Dr Grant's report on Fletcher's risk of future offending.
Dr Grant concluded that "Lloyd Fletcher had the paraphilia of sexual sadism".
"Sexual arousal, rage towards women, and a wish to inflict pain and humiliation upon his victims had led to homicidal impulses resulting in at least one murder and at least one attempted murder," he said.
"The apparent post-mortem mutilation of Janet Phillips indicated an even more extreme sadistic paraphilia.
'This sexual sadism occurred in a man with a personality disorder, with anti-social and schizoid traits."
Dr Grant came "to the conclusion that he was a high-risk offender who would likely rape or murder again".
From his high security custody wing, Lloyd Fletcher did not press a challenge to his indefinite sentence and has refused to partake in further psychiatric assessments.
"Society will never be capable of preventing all sadistic serial reoffending," Dr Grant said of judicial failures to keep a monster like Fletcher off the streets.
"Hopefully we can get better at reducing offending by recognising the signs of psychopathic sadism at an earlier stage in the offender's violent life."
Killer Instinct, Having a Mind for Murder, by Donald Grant, Melbourne University Publishing, $34.99.