Category: Serial Killing
Location: Perth, Australia
Date: 1959 - 1963
Crime: Cooke, known as 'The Night Caller', assaulted twenty two people, while killing eight of his victims utilizing a variety of attacks and means. He was hanged for his crimes in October 1964.
Biography: Cooke was born on February 25, 1931 in the city of Perth, Australia as the eldest of three children. His father, who had never wanted to be married in the first place, was an alcoholic who beat his only son mercilessly for stepping in to protect his mother from his violent outbursts. Cooke , not only suffered at the hands of his father, he was bullied and mocked throughout school due to a hare lip and cleft palate. He spoke in barely a mumble and corrective surgical procedures failed to correct the deformities. As a teen, he was rejected by his peers and spent his nights committing petty crimes and vandalism. He served 18 months in prison for burning down a local church that denied him a place in its choir. When he was 21 he joined the military only to be kicked out three months later when his teenage crimes came to light. He was married a year later and fathered seven children. Oddly enough, this seemingly stable family life did not keep Eric Cooke from roaming the streets at night and committing many minor offenses, of which he was arrested several times for being a 'peeping tom'. In the early 1960's, the city of Perth was terrorized by a series of seemingly unrelated violent crimes. People were being killed in hit and run's, stabbings, shootings and assaulted during home invasions. The randomness of the crimes did not indicate that this was the work of one man. The assaults were carried out with several different rifles, an assortment of knives, even scissors and an axe. Cooke was finally caught when a rifle he had used to murder one of his victims was found hidden in the bushes. Ballistics tests tied it to the crime giving the police an opportunity to trap the perpetrator. They placed it back where they had found it, but put it under surveillance in the hopes that the owner would return to collect it. Two weeks later, Cooke retrieved the rifle and was arrested. Once captured, Cooke confessed to 22 violent crimes, eight of which had resulted in murders. He was dubbed 'The Night Caller' when details of his attacks and crimes became public during his trial.