Clues that caught chainsaw ‘psychopath’
WARNING: Graphic Content
THIS Friday, Tasmania's Parole Board will meet to discuss the release of one of Tasmania's most notorious and depraved "psychopathic" killers.
In 1986, Jamie John Curtis led a vicious rampage across Hobart where he abducted three people, murdering one and gang-raping another, who he also tortured with a chainsaw - telling her that he would give her a two-minute headstart to run into the woods before he would come hunting her.
At the time of Curtis' capture in 1986, there were warrants out for his arrest in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. He had also served jail time in Queensland.
Yet just eight months later, Curtis broke out of Risdon Prison in a laundry cart, triggering pandemonium as a statewide manhunt ensued.
According to police descriptions published in news reports from the era, Curtis appeared every bit the monster that he was. Covered in tattoos, 183cm tall and wearing prison-issued khaki that blended into the bushland, he was understood to be carrying a table knife that had been sharpened to a point in jail.
The breakout occurred at 2.07pm on Friday, October 3, 1986, with Curtis hiding in a laundry van bound for Royal Hobart Hospital.
From there, the deadly fugitive led police on a wild-goose chase across the state. Air and sea ports were closed or put on tight surveillance, roadblocks were erected and, eventually, an entire media blackout was imposed after detectives speculated that he was evading police by listening to news reports on the radio.
The public were on tenterhooks. Police had repeatedly warned that Curtis could easily abduct a hostage and was experienced in doing so.
Children who didn't turn up to school were personally checked on by police, as terrified parents did their best to keep to their routines.
But a trail of breadcrumbs were being left behind. A yellow Holden station wagon had been stolen from a Glenorchy car yard, meat had gone missing from a Deloraine farm and Curtis' fingerprints were found in a deserted farmhouse in Ellendale with its front door broken open.
Across the state there were dozens of reported sightings for police to comb through, while helicopters searched bush area.
Finally, nine days later, Curtis was tracked down and apprehended by a police squad, following a tip-off from the public.
He was growing a beard and had changed his clothes and was found in blue jeans, a blue cardigan and white T-shirt.
Chillingly, when he was apprehended, he was lurking on a neighbouring country property to where his gang-rape victim "Alicia" was being kept under police guard.
"I got a phone call and they told me they got him. They told me to look out the window and I would see him driving past in just a moment," Alicia tells news.com.au.
But then in April last year, the Tasmanian Parole Board elected to release the sadistic killer back into the community. This was despite expert medical advice that he still displays a "high number of psychopathic traits" that "cannot be cured".
Alicia, now 51, was beside herself.
"He got a life sentence. They don't need to let him out, they chose to," she says.
"As soon as he was paroled I went into complete emotional and psychological meltdown. I was so overwhelmed I took leave from work for almost the entirety of his parole.
"I was engulfed by fear the entire time, just waiting for him to reoffend or breach parole. And then he did."
In October last year, Curtis was rearrested for allegedly assaulting another woman, who he met through an online dating account he set up.
He has been in the same jail he broke out of, ever since.
Now this Friday he will come up for parole again.
"Jamie Curtis is a monster. I know this better than anyone else alive," says Alicia.
"He should never have been allowed out of jail last year. How many more chances does he get? How many more lives need to be ruined?"
Alicia now wants to speak out under her real name to warn the public, but Tasmania's sexual assault victim gag laws prohibit her from doing so.
"The killer already knows my name. This gag law loesn't protect me one bit. It just works to silence me," she says.
The #LetHerSpeak campaign is now fundraising to help Alicia take her fight to use her real name to the Supreme Court of Tasmania.
Nina Funnell is the creator of the #LetHerSpeak campaign. You can donate to the GoFundMe to help cover Alicia's legal fees here.