COP WHO NEVER QUIT
Sydney detective, brave victim unite to catch secret serial predator
SHE only had a fake name, scant evidence and a vague recollection of a 30-year-old sex crime to go on but Sydney detective Ellen Quinn (right) refused to give up on a quest to catch a serial offender who attacked nine children.
ARMED with just a few decadesold memories from one witness, the name of a boy and her own dogged determination, one incredible cop tracked down a serial paedophile who thought he had got away with his foul crimes.
By the time Detective Senior Constable Ellen Quinn had finished her three-year quest, nine people had told their story of child sexual abuse — some girls as young as six — and one of Australia’s worst child molesters would be sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
Now, True Crime Australia can identify the serial paedophile who terrorised Sydney’s inner west in the 1970s and 1980s as Jack Keith King and reveal the extraordinary way he was caught. He would still be living in
Western Australia, unknown to police and still haunting the nightmares of the children he terrorised, without Quinn’s refusal to give up.
“The first piece of information that came in was an extraordinarily brave woman, who at the time was in her late 30s,” said Quinn.
“She walked into her local police station, in rural NSW, and she told the guy at the counter: ‘Something really bad happened to me when I was a kid and I want to talk about it. I want to tell my story’.”
In December 2013, the woman told police she was raped by a man called Lionel for several years, from the age of six until nine, and that the offences occurred around the innerwestern Sydney suburb of Stanmore during the 1980s.
“Her story was a bloody hard one to tell and it took a lot for her to do that, to walk into that police station that day, so I will always admire her for it — that’s the first piece of information that started everything,” said Quinn.
But the first name the victim could recall for the perpetrator turned out to be a pseudonym. He also gave her a fake last name; chillingly, it was a surname he had taken from one of his victims.
Three decades had passed, meaning there was no crime scene.
“In this case you can’t rely on forensic evidence — although fingerprints did become relevant later in identifying him — but 30 years had passed. So we had no forensic evidence, memories fade in that time. The best you can do is just thoroughly and comprehensively examine the evidence that you do have and in this case it was that (first) victim statement,” she said.
The victim told police she recalled seeing a young boy with her molester. Although the boy was not in any way involved or privy to the crimes, the woman could remember his name — Jason King. Finally, a lead worth following.
“She wasn’t quite sure of the relationship, she believed it was this guy’s son … but there were a lot of people with that same name,” said Quinn.
So methodically Quinn began to interview people — anyone she could find who was in some way connected to the victim and could verify events.
“It’s all old-fashioned detective work — talking to lots of people, making lots of inquiries … lots of which don’t go anywhere but those that do, piece them together and you of build a good picture,” Quinn said.
The first victim’s allegations were not only confirmed but increasingly the people Quinn interviewed admitted they had their own story.
“I’d been speaking to all of these different people and what is remarkable is that they all told me very consistent things about him. They described a slightly English accent; they described some thick glasses that he wore, and they described pockmarked skin, scarring on his face,” she said.
Quinn found social work records that referenced King.
“They even spoke about him in quite glowing terms,” she said.
“It soon became apparent that he was using that first victim as a lure of sorts, to lure other vulnerable children into his sort of life and his care. And he committed numerous sexual offences against all of them over a lengthy period of time.”
Quinn painstakingly made her way through the endless list of “Jason Kings”, ruling people out as she went and refining her list.
She visited the location of the old fish and chip shop ran by King and his wife on Henderson Rd, Alexandria, during the early 1980s.
While King’s wife would serve fish and chips, he would lure primary school-aged girls upstairs and rape them.
A break came when Quinn met with a St Vincent de Paul volunteer who encountered Jason as a child. Jason was frequently hospitalised, a victim of constant and relentless abuse, and the volunteer remembered his little face being littered with scars.
Those markings would become key to tracking down the right Jason King.
“For every inquiry I’m telling you about there were 20 that led me
nowhere but that took up a lot of time,” said Quinn.
Then she found a Jason King with a website advertising services as a paranormal investigator. The man’s face bore heavy scars.
“I was going in blind, this guy could be in contact with his dad, he could be an offender like his dad, I really had no idea what to expect,” Quinn said.
But Jason told her he was also looking for his long-lost father and that he’d accepted the help of filmmaker Ben Lawrence who was documenting that search for a film called Ghosthunter.
Jason’s experience of coming to terms with the knowledge his father was a wanted paedophile is documented throughout the film, as he grapples with life under the shadow of his father’s crimes.
After sourcing Jason’s birth certificate, Quinn now had his father’s real name.
Government records showed that Jack Keith King didn’t have a passport, so he hadn’t left the country. There was no death certificate, which meant he was still alive.
Victorian police records also came up with a match, revealing that King had committed a sexual offence against a child during the 1970s but that he had skipped his bail. After that, he adopted his fake name.
NSW police had his fingerprints recorded for another minor
Quinn found a man with King’s name and date of birth living in Western Australia through details he had provided to utility companies.
But, in the end, it came down to an Instagram post.
The same Jack Keith King had a daughter whose Instagram account showed a photo of him.
“He had a pockmarked face, he had thick glasses and I thought, ‘well, this looks like how I’d imagine this guy would have turned out’,” said Quinn.
When Fremantle police took King to the station his prints matched perfectly and he was extradited to Sydney, where he was charged and tried before the District Court before being sentenced in 2017.
His son Jason attended and supported the nine female victims, who sat together in the court. Each of the women provided a moving victim impact statement. Some told of developing panic attacks or mental health disorders as a result of their abuse, others said they had felt trapped in the pain of what happened to them for more than three decades.
“It was really a powerful thing to witness,” said Quinn.
“For every job I do I try and do the best job that I can, but there was something special about these women, especially because of the truly horrible nature of what happened to them.
“I was thoroughly determined. I could have written this case off, just put it in the too-hard basket a trillion times, but I was determined not to. There’s nothing too flash about it.
“You can’t wrap it up in an hour episode, it’s a hard slog.
“It’s chasing a lot of rabbits down holes and going nowhere but it’s worth it.”
Inner- west paedophile JackKeith King was finally brought to justice years after his crimes.
The takeaway shop King and his wife used to run.Jason King helped catch his father. Detective SeniorConstable Ellen Quinn never gave up her hunt for a serial paedophile. Picture: DannyAarons