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He was having far more success with his working persona, which took advantage of
his youthful appearance. He was able to pass himself off as a sixteen-year-old if he
dressed the part. That way he could frequent places where kids on the run hung out .
When he located one, he'd take photograp hs and send them to relatives so that they
could take "appropriate action".
His language was always precise when he talked to me . He never used a silly
French accent or told stories that might not be believed. I guess I was seeing his
professional persona. One day I remarked that his detective work would make good
training for a police cadet. I was fishing for information and he knew it. All I got in
reply was a knowing smile.
I estimate that over 100,000 people stayed at our hostel during the fifteen years we
ran it. I remember no more than a couple of hundred. Some made a deep impression
on me and Clarence was one . I have included him in two of my novels: Curtin Express
and The Missing Miss Mori.
23 Homicidal holiday safari
Outback travel has its problems and we always tried to ensure that our hostel
guests were properly prepared before setting out. Our main effort went into
seeing that they had enough spare water in case of emergency. One year we
had to warn them not to go at all. A serial killer was loose and he was murdering
Bodies were being found in the remote outback and there were disturbing reports of
missing persons. One came from a car hire company that had rented a car to a
German tourist. The young man had failed to return it and the police were concerned
that he was yet another victim.
The car was small and red. An alert went out and a helicopter pilot, mustering
cattle, caught a glimpse of a red car in some bushes. The Special Weapons Squad
was called in. Helicopters landed and a loud hailer was used to order the occupant of
the car to come out with raised hands. He responded with heavy weapons fire and
was killed in the shootout that followed.
When the police examined the body they found, to their immense surprise, that the
dead man was the missing German tourist. As their investigations continued, it
became evident that he had come to Australia to go on a killing spree. Not
surprisingly, the incident aroused considerable media interest.
An Australian TV team went to the young man's hometown and interviewed his
distressed parents who couldn't understand how their dear boy could have done such
a terrible thing.
A German TV team went next door and interviewed the neighbours who told a very
different story. Even as a boy he had frightened them. He had a fascination for guns
and went around killed animals. He had a criminal record at an early age. To their