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[00:00:00]

Due to the graphic nature of this killer's crimes, listener discretion is advised this episode includes discussions of murder, domestic abuse and assault that some people may find offensive. We advise extreme caution for children under 13.

[00:00:17]

Late in the evening on December 27th, 1958, 30 year old Kathy Bellus hopped off the bus in the quiet suburb of Belmont, Western Australia. The mother of three was tired after a long evening working at the tearooms in the centre of Perth. She was glad to be almost home. As the bus trundled into the night, the dark closed around the slight brunette Cathy expected to see her husband, 33 year old Phil Bellus, waiting for her in their green van.

[00:00:47]

But the street was empty. Her bus had run late. So perhaps Phil came and went, not wanting to leave their young children home alone for too long.

[00:00:56]

After waiting a minute, she decided to walk the couple of blocks home from the bus stop. There were a few houses in the area and no streetlights, so she pulled a flashlight from her handbag.

[00:01:07]

Halfway down the block, Cathy heard a car coming up behind her. She turned thinking perhaps it was Phil, but she didn't recognise the beat up ute. She stepped to the side of the road, giving the driver plenty of room.

[00:01:21]

But the driver sped up when Cathy looked over her shoulder.

[00:01:25]

She saw the headlights blazing in the dark, coming closer, heading straight for her. She picked up her pace, dashing off the road completely and into a paddock next to the pavement. And still, the car pursued her. She could hear it roaring ever nearer as she broke into a run through the field at high speed, the car struck Cathy, throwing her slight figure some 60 feet. She landed pain radiating through her broken body.

[00:01:53]

As she lay there, Cathy heard the driver get out and walk towards her. She could see a man's figure in the dim light and she begged him, Don't leave me or I'll die. But the man didn't care. He just laughed. Hi, I'm Greg Pulcinella.

[00:02:18]

This is Serial Killers, a podcast original.

[00:02:22]

Every episode we dive into the minds and madness of serial killers. Today, we're bringing you the story of Eric Edgar Cooke, sometimes known as the Night Caller or the Nedlands monster. I'm here with my co-host, Vanessa Richardson. Hi, everyone.

[00:02:37]

You can find episodes of Serial Killers and all other cast originals for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to stream serial killers for free on Spotify. Just open the app and type serial killers in the search bar.

[00:02:51]

This week, we'll delve into Cook's troubled upbringing, his developing fascination with cat burglary and his wasted opportunities for reform. We'll also see his first brutal taste of murder.

[00:03:03]

Next time, we'll cover Cook's escalating crime spree, which resulted in eight deaths and even more ruined lives.

[00:03:13]

We've got all that coming up. Stay with us. Some serial killers hide in plain sight, friends and family remark that they never saw it coming, that their loved one couldn't possibly be a murderer. Perhaps the warning signs were there, but they didn't know how to look for them.

[00:03:30]

In contrast, there are the killers whose entire life is one giant red flag. From the very beginning, they're painted into a corner and it seems things were never going to go right. There's no way out. Then again, some people are given a way out, a chance at redemption. But for whatever reason, they squander it and innocent people pay the price. Eric Edgar Cooke was one such man and from the start he seemed destined for infamy. Born in 1931 to a caring mother and an alcoholic father, Cook had a turbulent home life.

[00:04:07]

From his first breath, his father, Vivian, hated him.

[00:04:12]

Vivian couldn't stand the sight of his son. Cook was born with a cleft palate and a harelip. Even after corrective surgery, he was left with scarring from his nose to his lip. That caused him social anxiety for the rest of his life.

[00:04:25]

Cook also had a slight speech impediment because of the cleft palate, so he always seemed to be mumbling. As a result, he retreated from the company of other people and was often left to his own devices, which, to be fair, was preferable to the abusive treatment he received when Vivian was around.

[00:04:43]

Venice is going to take over and the psychology here and throughout the episode. Please note, Vanessa is not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, but she has done a lot of research for this show. Thanks, Greg. According to a study published in the European Journal of Orthodontics, a parent's reactions to their child's cleft defect can include shock, grief and guilt. The parents reactions also depend on their own background and ability to handle stress. The same study suggests that parental feelings about their child's cleft palate is a vital factor in the child's developing self-esteem.

[00:05:20]

As he grew, Cook was acutely aware of his disfigurement and tilted his head towards the ground, shielding his face from view as much as possible. And though that might have protected him from the stares of strangers, it couldn't shield him from his father's rage.

[00:05:35]

Vivian was a violent drunk. When he finished work, he'd head straight for the pub to drink his paycheck. Once he'd had his fill, he'd returned to his family to express his love through his fists, and his son was his favorite target.

[00:05:51]

He'd beat Cook with his belt sticks or just his hands, often with no provocation, though on occasion the young boy would step in to protect his mother from Vivian, earning a sound thrashing in exchange. Like so many domestic abusers, Vivian would often apologise to his family when he was sober, but never to cook. It seemed his son wasn't worth an apology. And so Cook took to wandering around his neighborhood, sometimes hiding underneath his house just to get away.

[00:06:22]

It might have been a relief to cook when he was old enough to start school. It meant time away from home and the opportunity to make friends.

[00:06:30]

But the shy, quiet boy couldn't catch a break put off by Cook slight facial deformity. His classmates teased him and repelled his attempts at friendship. Sometimes they would appear to soften, telling him where they were going fishing at the creek. But when the excited boy dashed off to join them at the promised time, there was no one there. He'd been tricked.

[00:06:52]

So unable to make any friends at school and similarly isolated at home, cooks spent his spare time roaming the streets. It was during these unsupervised hours that he discovered a liking for stealing just little things, a coin here or there, stuff that no one would notice.

[00:07:11]

His success as a thief emboldened the young boy, and he started taking things people did miss. When he was six, he was expelled for stealing a teacher's purse. Aside from the small educational hiccup, Cook proved to be fairly bright and performed well at his new school. Despite his friend deficiency, it seemed like he enjoyed his studies.

[00:07:33]

But for Cook, nothing good could last forever. When he was in his early teens, his father made him leave school to get a job. With Vivian's earnings funneled straight to the local pub feeding, the family of five largely fell on the shoulders of Cook's mother, Christian. But working in kitchens and cleaning houses netted Christian barely enough to get by. So Cook took a job delivering groceries, giving his wages directly to his mother. She gave him a small amount of pocket money back, which he could spend as he liked.

[00:08:04]

But it wasn't much. So he resorted to petty theft whenever he was hungry or needed a few shillings.

[00:08:11]

But necessity didn't always drive his theft. When Cook joined the Scarborough Junior Lifesaving Club, an ocean lifeguarding organisation, he finally seemed to make some friends. Surrounded by new peers, Cook wanted to impress them to earn their respect, and failing that, he'd make it seem like they admired him.

[00:08:32]

He stole a watch from the clubhouse and had it engraved to make it look like an award and a token of affection from the club. But like a teacher's purse, a missing watch is readily noticed. Cook was soon unmasked as the culprit and made to return the pilfered item to its owner.

[00:08:48]

Soon after, Cook was asked to leave the club. It may have been because of the stealing, but in truth, Cook was a terrible lifeguard. For several years. He'd suffered from blackouts of unknown origin, and they happened at the worst times, like in the ocean.

[00:09:05]

In fact, the team needed to be pulled from the surf by his mates on more than one occasion.

[00:09:10]

But the danger of the Australian coastline, its pounding waves in particular, gave Cooke an outlet to indulge his daredevil nature, Cook found, yet a passion for the kind of danger that put his life at risk, especially when other people were watching. It was a great way to get the attention and admiration he so craved. So when he was made to leave the surf club, he found other ways to take risks, like diving 50 feet from a cliff into a river while other kids watched on.

[00:09:42]

After his dive, he stumbled from the water, clinging to consciousness for days of headaches and neck pain. Later, Cooke was admitted to Royal Perth Hospital.

[00:09:52]

In 1947, he returned to Royal Perth after he was hit in the face with a winch at his new factory job. Just a couple of months later, in October, he was admitted with a fractured skull, courtesy of Vivian. Ashamed of his abusive father, Cooke told people he'd been in a fight. In reality, Vivian had turned on his son for once again, trying to protect his mother from his abuse soon after that.

[00:10:19]

He got his factory job, tried to push Cook's face into a trough of water as payback for an annoying prank. Unfortunately, he missed and cooks had collided with a metal tank, knocking him out cold. In previous episodes, we've discussed the impact that repeated severe head injuries can have on a person. Some studies have indicated as many as one in four serial killers experienced a traumatic head injury. A 2011 study on violence levels in people who report head injuries suggested that young people who experienced some kind of head trauma see an increase in violent tendencies as they grow older.

[00:10:58]

That trend seems to fit with Cook's own journey, especially given his next move in 1948, the 17 year old enrolled in the citizens military forces now known as the Australian Army Reserves. It's possible that he thought war was just one more opportunity to prove his daring, but didn't expect to enjoy it as much as he did. He took an instant liking to the regimentation and proved himself adept at weapons training. He was an excellent shot.

[00:11:26]

Before long, Cook was promoted to the rank of lance corporal, and though he found great fulfillment in his time at the CMF, he still wasn't entirely content. So perhaps searching for a new thrill, he started breaking into houses around Perth.

[00:11:43]

Mostly it was more the same habit from childhood, taking small things people would hardly notice missing and raiding purses for loose change. But sometimes he wanted people to know he'd been there carrying out some light vandalism and arson.

[00:11:57]

During his nighttime prowls, some of his victims arrived home to a bed full of slashed clothing or pillows. Often the shredded garments would be set on fire, causing damage but never bringing a building down.

[00:12:10]

He continued his routine of regular cat burglary for a little over a year. Police lifted his fingerprints from some of the crime scenes, but hadn't yet found a match. That would change in March of 1949. That month, 18 year old Cooke broke into the home of Ivan Yelchin and his wife. Unfortunately for Cook, he wasn't as quiet as he thought, and his victims woke up. Ivan cornered cook in the bathroom, where the short team pretended to be a drunken neighbour who'd stumbled into the wrong house.

[00:12:41]

Ivan didn't buy the story and pounced. Cook managed to escape, dashing into the night. But the yellow chicks reported the break in and with a description of Cook's face, it didn't take the police long to track him down, finally able to match his fingerprints to ones found at his earlier break ins, Cooke's fate seemed sealed.

[00:13:03]

He was going to prison. Up next, Eric Cook is given a second chance. Hi, it's Greg Parkhurst, has a brand new series. Sure to become your next podcast Obsession. It's called Medical Murders, and it exposes a dark and disturbing diagnosis that not every doctor wants to extend your life.

[00:13:28]

Every Wednesday, medical murders introduces you to the worst to the medical community has to offer men and women who took an oath to save lives, but instead use their expertise to develop more sinister specialties.

[00:13:42]

Join host Alistair Burton as he examines the formative years and motives of history's most infamous killers, dissecting their medical backgrounds with expert analysis and professional insight provided by practicing M.D. Dr. David Keber, you'll investigate a wide range of Hanus health care workers like the general practitioner believed to be the most prolific serial killer in modern history.

[00:14:04]

For the dentist who led a double life as a hit man, or even the doctor and gang member who makes deadly potions for unhappy housewives to use in their husbands when it comes to these true crime stories.

[00:14:17]

The only thing the doctor ordered is murder. Follow medical murders free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Now back to the story. In March of 1949, 18 year old Eric Edgar Cooke was arrested following a string of burglaries and arson incidents in North Perth, Western Australia. He made no application for bail, likely because his family couldn't afford the expense and was charged with multiple counts of stealing, breaking and entering and arson before the trial.

[00:14:53]

The arresting officer, Detective Burrows, looked into Cook's life after finding out about the boy's abusive father, the cleft palate and its resulting troubles, as well as his accident prone ways. Detective Burrows declared Cooke one of life's unfortunates while awaiting sentencing for his convictions. Cooke was visited by the inspector general of mental hospitals, Dr Ajay Thompson.

[00:15:19]

After his evaluation of a cook, he declared the teen was, quote, not certifiably insane and of normal intelligence, but emotionally undeveloped, which left him unable to adjust himself in his adolescence to an adult social world.

[00:15:33]

Dr Thompson theorized that most of Cook's issues stemmed from his cleft palate, the resulting social rejection and his father's abusive nature. He recommended that the magistrate take into account Cook's lack of friendships growing up as well, urging that leniency in sentencing would help curb the boy's delinquent nature by holding off on a harsh sentence. Thompson believed Cooke could be rescued from a life of crime, as well as, quote, an incipient mental state of schizophrenia, of which his anti-social conduct, his bizarre and somewhat fantastical reasoning and his emotional maladjustment may be merely early symptoms.

[00:16:14]

The magistrate agreed with the doctor's recommendation and sentence cook to three years imprisonment. However, he wanted the boy to be released after a taste period of only a few months behind bars. As a result, Cook was paroled after serving only three months before the more hardened criminals could contaminate him.

[00:16:33]

It was a show of leniency that many first time offenders don't see. It was a second chance to turn his life around. But Dr Thompson had a specific parole condition a month at a mental hospital. He intended to stay as rehabilitative, hoping that by taking a firm hand in Cook's mental health, he could help him steer his own canoe to avoid the shores of disaster.

[00:16:58]

But not everyone was as confident as Dr Thompson. At the Heathkit Reception Hospital, a psychiatrist declared that Cook was a liar beyond help. Still, after his month, Cook was released as promised, following his discharge from Heathkit.

[00:17:14]

Reverend John Hawkins of the South Perth Methodist Church volunteered to help in his rehabilitation. He welcomed Cooke into the church community and the flock responded in kind.

[00:17:25]

For the first time, Cooke had a positive male role model in his life. Reverend John seemed strong and masculine, but was also kind and warm. In other words, he was the antithesis to Cook's brutish father, Vivian, and the teen responded well to his influence.

[00:17:41]

Before long, he was regularly attending services and Bible studies and made friends with members of the youth group. The about face was steep. After joining the church, Cook read the Bible so much that it worried his mother.

[00:17:55]

But Cook didn't care. He was finally part of an accepting community. He had friends who, as instructed by their faith, loved him for who he was and saw only the good in him. Not only that, he finally had a social life he'd always dreamed of. He played tennis and hockey, went on movie nights and attended Bible camps with his new friends.

[00:18:15]

It seemed like things finally turned around for the troubled young man. In 1953, he found work as a truck driver at the Metropolitan Markets in West Perth, where a young waitress caught his eye in July of that year.

[00:18:29]

He met 19 year old Sarah Saleen Lavin. Both Sally and her mother were charmed by the 22 year old cook and the young lovers. Courtship was brief. They were married by November and welcomed their first son the following May. A year later, they welcomed a second son. It was a marked change for the young boy who was once an outcast in his own family, 24 year old Cook was surrounded by unconditional love. But with that came the responsibility of providing for his own family.

[00:18:59]

And that was something not covered in basic CMF training.

[00:19:03]

It might have been the stress of this new responsibility that did it, or perhaps that was a nature that had lain dormant until now. Whatever the reason, Cook grew more and more to resemble his violent father, taking out his frustrations on his young wife.

[00:19:18]

But like Cook's mother before her, Sally remained in the marriage. Aside from anything else, the options for women were fewer. In 1950s Australia, she was in it for the long haul.

[00:19:30]

Cook didn't seem to care what his wife did. He had other things on his mind. He fell into a habit he'd not been able to kick since childhood. Wandering the streets of his neighborhood as a hungry young boy, Cook hoped strangers would favor him with extra food or spare change. As an adolescent, his urges were likely driven by his thrill seeking nature, now need and dark desires combined to motivate his return to commit burglary. And soon enough, desire won out over all else.

[00:20:00]

And it would be his ruin.

[00:20:03]

In mid 1955, after the birth of his second son, Cook stole a car so he could follow a young woman to a hockey tournament in Bunbury, about two hours south of Perth.

[00:20:15]

But on the drive, Cook rolled the car, suffering a broken sternum, knee and several facial injuries in the process.

[00:20:22]

But broken bones were the least of his troubles. He was charged for car theft and appeared once more before a magistrate.

[00:20:30]

However, this time he wasn't alone.

[00:20:32]

In the courtroom, one of his friends from the South Perth Methodist Church, a lawyer, came to his aid representing his troubled friend. He argued that Cook had worked hard at his rehabilitation and that the recent incident didn't represent who he truly was.

[00:20:49]

The judge was inclined to disagree. And in September of 1955, 24 year old Eric Cook was sentenced to two years jail time with hard labor in light of the judgment. And acquaintance of the couple stopped by to see Sally. He was a justice of the peace and offered to help the young woman have her marriage annulled.

[00:21:07]

But the 19 year old turned down the offer. She didn't want to leave her husband when he was down. She believed he deserved a second chance, even if no one else did. It seemed she had hope he could be reformed, that things would be different on the other side. And so Sally Cooke waited for her husband, Cook served his time with no apparent incident, and as the sentence drew to a close, Sally, along with several friends from their church, made it known they were ready to help rehabilitate him upon release.

[00:21:38]

It's interesting to note that Cook's treatment of his wife seemed to be common knowledge among their church community. And yet the couple's friends rallied around to petition for Cook's early release in paperwork provided on Cook's behalf. The abuse was even documented for government officials, painting a vivid picture for the treatment of women in 1950s Australia.

[00:22:00]

Officials ignored the admission that Cook was an abusive husband, granting him early release in December of 1956. The 25 year old was released three months ahead of schedule. The state's comptroller general felt it only fair that the father of two be free to spend Christmas with his family. Once again, Eric Cook was given another chance to prove himself a valuable, upstanding member of society.

[00:22:25]

And outwardly, things stayed calm in the Cook household for the next couple of years, as well as calm as a house can be with the arrival of twins now with four young children to take care of, one of whom had an intellectual disability sorely needed all the help she could get. So after two years without him, it might have been a relief for her to have her husband home to lend a hand.

[00:22:48]

It might have been a relief, yes, if only Cook was interested in active fatherhood. Unfortunately for his wife and the people of Perth, he preferred to be alone watching from the shadows.

[00:23:04]

Coming up, Eric Cookes nighttime wanderings turned deadly. Now back to the story. At the end of 1956, 25 year old Eric Edgar Cooke arrived home from prison and soon after welcomed twin girls with his long suffering wife, Sally. However, despite his fatherly responsibilities, Cook's most enduring passion was still nighttime prowling. It was even more important to him than his family.

[00:23:34]

Not that Sally knew about it, though. As far as we can tell, Cookes young wife remained blissfully unaware of his extracurricular activities. If she suspected anything, it was likely only that her husband was stepping out on her.

[00:23:47]

And to be fair, he was a cook, worked hard during the week and probably felt he deserved a little time just for himself. So on Friday and Saturday evenings, he dressed in the finest clothes he owned and headed out on the town, leaving Sally at home to care for their four children.

[00:24:05]

If she was curious about where he went, she kept it to herself. Cook didn't tolerate questions about his weekend outings, so following 1950s etiquette as it applied to married women, Sally waited patiently at home while her husband disappeared until the early hours of the morning.

[00:24:22]

Sometimes Cook didn't return for a day or two, and we can't be certain what he was up to at all times. But for the most part, he liked to let his hair down by going bowling to see the latest movie or just to a local pub.

[00:24:35]

It was fairly standard behavior for a bachelor living the life of a single man suited cook just fine, especially when it involved meeting and dating single women. The shame over his facial scarring and speech impediment seemed to be a thing of the past.

[00:24:51]

Now, Cook was confident and living his best life on those nights out, but the fun didn't stop once the movie was over and the ladies went home. That was when Cook's real fun began.

[00:25:06]

Instead of going home to his wife and children, Cook donned a pair of gloves and wandered the streets of Perth, as he had in his adolescence.

[00:25:14]

Cook found darkened houses and flats to break into the gloves meant he didn't have to fear, leaving fingerprints behind. He'd learned that lesson in his youth.

[00:25:24]

Cook also liked to hide his distinct features as best he could. So from the first home he visited each night, he stole the hat and wore it for the rest of the evening. Likely pulled low to throw shade over his recognizable scars.

[00:25:39]

Prowling the quiet suburban neighborhoods, Cook enjoyed peeping in windows, watching the lives and lovemaking of his potential burglary victims.

[00:25:48]

Cookes routines fit in with the common methods utilized by burglars, according to research by Dr Claire WNY from the University of Portsmouth. Burglars and thieves prepare for their crime by carefully casing potential targets.

[00:26:02]

They'll take note of routines and schedules and zero in on the best opportunities. But they'll also be open to in the moment. Changes to take advantage of an open window were unlocked. Door cooks careful observation over his lifetime on the outskirts would have helped him home these skills by now.

[00:26:21]

Cook was a practice prowler, and it's likely he committed many robberies without detection.

[00:26:27]

He was operating largely on instinct, and it worked for now.

[00:26:31]

As far as we can tell, during the 18 months following his release, Cook kept his misdeeds relatively nonviolent. He was a stealthy cat burglar and a peeping tom, but didn't attack anyone that we know of. But that streak wouldn't last forever.

[00:26:49]

On September 12th, 1958, 27 year old Cooke stole a Ford sedan from a quiet street, he'd returned to the home of a young girl he was stalking, hoping to catch a glimpse of the object of his obsession. But when she wasn't there, he settled for a joyride.

[00:27:05]

It was late in the evening when, as he drove aimlessly through the street, Cooke saw 26 year old Mel Schneider. Nell was a mother of two from Holland who had emigrated to Australia after World War Two. A devout Christian, she sang in the church choir and was riding her bike home from rehearsal.

[00:27:25]

Something about Nell drew Cook's eye as she cycled by him, and he followed her a short way. It's unclear what, if anything, about her provoked him. But he decided she deserved to die in the stolen car he accelerated, bearing down on Nell at alarming speed when he collided with her bicycle. She was thrown up into the air and landed in a heap on the road.

[00:27:51]

Cook didn't wait around to enjoy his handiwork. He sped off, not caring whether Nell lived or died, dragging her bike down the street until it dislodged from his bumper. The mother of two was discovered a short while later. A passing driver noticed the mangled bike and stopped to investigate. Just around the corner, they found Nell's crumpled form. She was rushed to the hospital and miraculously survived.

[00:28:18]

But she was left with a fractured skull, some brain damage and a form of epilepsy that would cause her difficulty for the rest of her life.

[00:28:26]

Meanwhile, Cooke didn't spare a second thought for his victim. He abandoned the stolen car not far from the crime scene. And because of his glove wearing habit, he left no fingerprints on the Ford.

[00:28:38]

He had nothing to worry about after he so handily got away with the brutal crime. There was little to slow cooked down.

[00:28:47]

Just a couple of months later, on November 25th, he was out prowling once more and came upon his next victim quite accidentally.

[00:28:57]

Like Nell Schneider, 15 year old Mary McLeod happened to be in the wrong place at entirely the wrong time, unfortunately for her. That place was asleep in her bed in the middle of the night.

[00:29:11]

Cook broke into the McCleod home and made a little too much noise on his way in. Cook noticed Mary Stir at the banging of the screen door and made a split second decision. He hit her hard on the head before making his escape.

[00:29:24]

It's unclear what Cook used to knock Mary out, but she was left concussed and with a hairline fracture on her temple. The 15 year old didn't remember anything about the attack, nor did her family realize anyone was in the house. So it was decided that Mary must have fallen out of bed in her sleep. No one even thought to investigate the attack. As far as anyone knew, it never happened. Cook must have felt untouchable. He was able to get in and out of houses that night, even when his inhabitants were still inside.

[00:29:57]

The power he felt was surely intoxicating. And on Boxing Day 1958, he was ready to play God once more. That evening, Cook stole a ute in the suburb of Como and drove a few miles northeast to Belmont, it was just before midnight when he saw 30 year old Cathy Bellus walking on a darkened street.

[00:30:21]

Cathy was on her way home from a shift at the tearooms near the centre of Perth. Her husband, Phil, was supposed to pick her up from the bus stop, but when the bus ran late, he went home, not wanting to leave their children alone in the house for long.

[00:30:34]

Cook saw the petite mother alone in the dark and charged her down in his stolen ute when she noticed him bearing down on her. Cathy made for an empty field next to the road, but it was no good. Cook sped up and collided with her at speed.

[00:30:51]

Cathy was thrown around 60 feet and remembered seeing Cook get out of the car to check on her as she pleaded with him not to leave her. He laughed and fled the scene.

[00:31:01]

Like Nell Schneider before her, Kathy was lucky to survive. Neighbours heard her anguished screams and summoned an ambulance. Cathy was rushed to the hospital and eventually recovered, but suffered extensive injuries all over her body when the stolen ute turned up abandoned.

[00:31:19]

The next day, police were once again left with nothing to indicate who was responsible for the hit and run. Cathy's husband and the neighbours who found her were briefly investigated, and when they were ruled out as suspects, the case went cold.

[00:31:33]

But Eric Cooke was just getting warmed up. Just a month after he ran Cathy down, he struck again. On January 29th, 1959, 27 year old Cook visited his wife in the hospital in Subiaco in West Perth. Sally had just given birth to the couple's fifth child, which was, Cook thought, cause for celebration.

[00:31:58]

So after leaving the hospital, he walked to a pub in nearby Wembley and downed a beer or two. When he was done drinking, he stepped into the night air ready to get to work. Cook walked the quiet streets of West Perth, stopping to case some potential targets behind an apartment building. He stole a knife that was hanging from a bike's handlebars. He was still holding the knife when he got to the Cityview flats.

[00:32:23]

A short while later, at the complex, he found a ground floor apartment with an open window. Bingo.

[00:32:30]

He pulled himself through the window sometime after midnight. Inside, he came upon the sleeping form of 33 year old Penina Burkeman.

[00:32:40]

Penina, who worked at the cosmetics counter at Perth's David Jones department store, was alone in bed but naked.

[00:32:47]

Her boyfriend, popular radio announcer Fotis, whom Thomas had visited earlier that night but returned home after their date was over.

[00:32:56]

Like Mary McLeod, Penina heard Cooke moving around her home and stirred. Unfortunately, the 28 year old intruder was armed when Pennetta woke. He moved quickly, stabbing her with the knife.

[00:33:08]

Penina fought for her life, doing everything she could to throw Coke off her. She managed to drag her long nails down his face, tearing deep gouges into his mouth and cheeks before finally collapsing.

[00:33:23]

With the woman still and quiet at last, Cook beat a hasty retreat from the building. There was no need to bother with the window now. He ran straight out the front door, leaving it wide open behind him.

[00:33:35]

It's unclear if Cooke intentionally went looking for someone to attack that night, but finding the knife changed everything. Like many burglars, he'd adjusted his initial plan when a new opportunity arose.

[00:33:48]

But now he had to get rid of the evidence. On his walk home, he stopped to stab the bloody blade into the earth a few times, screaming Panin his blood off of it.

[00:33:58]

Then he dropped the weapon into a stormwater drain and snuck home.

[00:34:04]

The next morning, as Eric Cooke thought, a plausible excuses for the fresh wounds all over his face. Pinning his boyfriend, Fotis HOTAS walked by her flat on his way to work. When he noticed her front door was open, he stopped to investigate.

[00:34:18]

Inside, he found Nina's lifeless body splayed on the living room floor. Evidently, she wasn't dead when Cooke left her, and she'd pulled herself out of bed trying to get help. Unfortunately, the single mother didn't make it far.

[00:34:33]

Within days, Perth was abuzz with the news of the brutal slaying. Adding to the intrigue were the salacious details that the unmarried woman was naked and visited by her boyfriend on the night she died.

[00:34:46]

Police questioned Fotis over the murder, but neighbours who'd witnessed him leaving Panin his home confirmed his story, though he was ruled out as a suspect. The prevailing opinion around town was that the boyfriend did it. In a country struggling to embrace a new diversity policy, it's hardly surprising that a Greek MP. Grant shouldered the blame, Cooke likely looked on as public opinion turned against the once popular radio host, relieved to have such a high profile scapegoat as Votizen, Santos dealt with the death of his girlfriend and the suspicion against him.

[00:35:21]

Cook resolved to lay low for now.

[00:35:25]

But he wouldn't stay quiet forever. He decided that he wanted to give murder a second chance.

[00:35:38]

Thanks again for tuning into.

[00:35:40]

Serial Killers will be back soon with part two of Eric Edgar Cooke story.

[00:35:45]

Though initially tantalized by Cook's first murder, the people of Perth would soon be in a state of panic as his killing spree picked up pace.

[00:35:54]

For more information on Eric Edgar Cooke. Amongst the many sources we used, we found Broken Lives by Estelle Blackburn.

[00:36:01]

Extremely helpful to our research.

[00:36:03]

You can find more episodes of Serial Killers and all other cast originals for free on Spotify, not only to Spotify. Already have all of your favorite music, but now Spotify is making it easy for you to enjoy all of your favorite cast originals like serial killers for free from your phone desktop or smart speaker to stream serial killers on Spotify.

[00:36:24]

Just open the app and type serial killers in the search bar will see you next time.

[00:36:29]

Have a killer week. Serial Killers was created by Max Cuddler and is a podcast studio's original.

[00:36:36]

Executive producers include Max and Ron Cutler, Sound Design by Nick Johnson with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Joshua Kern.

[00:36:46]

This episode of Serial Killers was written by Joel Kaplan with writing assistants by Abigail Canon and stars Greg Polson and Vanessa Richardson.

[00:37:01]

Hi, listeners, remember to check out the new podcast, original series, Medical Murders every Wednesday beat the worst to the medical community has to offer men and women who took an oath to save lives, but instead use their expertise to develop more sinister specialties, follow medical murders free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.