Paula Denyer (born 14 April 1972) is an Australian serial killer currently serving three consecutive sentences of life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 30 years, initially at HM Prison Barwon and presently at Port Phillip Prison, for the murders of Elizabeth Stevens, 18, Debbie Fream, 22, and Natalie Russell, 17, in Frankston, Victoria, in 1993.
Denyer is known as the "Frankston Killer" as her crimes occurred in Frankston and neighbouring suburbs. During her imprisonment, Denyer began identifying as a transgender woman. She has been refused permission by prison authorities to wear make-up, receive gender reassignment surgery or formally alter her name by deed poll.
Denyer was born to British immigrant parents, Anthony and Maureen Denyer in Campbelltown, New South Wales, an outer suburb of Sydney. Her parents had immigrated to Australia in 1965. In 1981, the family relocated to Victoria.
Denyer reportedly had difficulty fitting in amongst her peers in her new town which led to problems with her self-confidence that was worsened by significant weight gain during her teen years.
Denyer killed and tortured her siblings' pets as she grew up, including her sister's kitten.
Denyer stalked and murdered three women in and around the Melbourne suburb of Frankston during a seven-week period in 1993. Denyer was 21 at the time of her crimes. During a police interview Denyer said the motivation for her crimes was a hatred of women in general.
- Police: "Can you explain why we have women victims?"
- Denyer: "I just hate them."
- Police: "I beg your pardon."
- Denyer: "I hate them all."
- Police: "Those particular girls or women in general?"
- Denyer: "General."
The first victim was 18-year-old Elizabeth Stevens. She had just alighted from a bus to Langwarrin when she was dragged to nearby Lloyd Park. Her throat was slashed and a criss-cross pattern was carved into her chest.
A month later, the second victim, Deborah Fream, was abducted in the early evening. She had left her car unlocked to run into a store to buy milk. Denyer climbed into the back seat, and hijacked the car after Fream drove from the store. She was taken to Taylor's Road and, like Stevens, her throat was slashed savagely. She had left her 12-day-old baby at home with a friend when she left to buy the milk.
Rosza Toth was attacked by Denyer while walking home from Seaford railway station on the evening of Deborah Fream's abduction. Toth was dragged towards the toilet block. She managed to break free of Denyer's grasp and notified police.
The third and final victim, 17-year-old Natalie Russell, was attacked while walking home early from school. She had taken a short cut home along a bicycle track through a park. She was dragged from the path through a large hole in a wire fence, but put up a huge fight. This made Denyer angry, and she slashed at her head and neck.
According to a letter she wrote from prison, Denyer began identifying as a woman in 2003. She has claimed that her feelings of gender dysphoria are what led her to seek revenge against women by murdering them. In another letter, she wrote: "I committed these disgusting crimes ... not because I ever hated womankind, but because I have never really felt that I was male."
Denyer began wearing women's clothing and cosmetics in prison, in defiance of prison orders. Denyer also filed freedom of information requests to learn of the Victorian government's policy on gender reassignment surgery for prisoners and has sought evaluation to determine her suitability for such surgery, which was also rejected by medical specialists. By summer 2004, she was receiving counselling on gender identity issues from prison psychologists.