Police hunt convicted killer
Police search for Steven James Hunter as a person of interest in the death Sarah Cafferkey. CRIME STOPPERS: 1800 333 000.PT0M50S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-29mv0 620 349 November 20, 2012
A MAN police are searching for in relation to the killing of Bacchus Marsh woman Sarah Cafferkey was jailed for stabbing a schoolgirl to death in 1986, and later tried to escape from Pentridge Prison.
Police have described Steven James Hunter, 46, as a ''person of interest'' in the investigation into the death of 22-year-old Ms Cafferkey, whose body was found at a Point Cook home on Saturday night, eight days after she went missing from Bacchus Marsh. They have urged Hunter to come forward and speak to them.
Clutching the handkerchief and trembling with emotion, she turned to Hunter and said: 'You bastard, you got my daughter!'
It is understood that the house on Fongeo Drive is owned or rented by a friend of Hunter's - who Fairfax has decided not to name - and that Hunter knew Ms Cafferkey and exchanged Facebook messages with her in the weeks leading up to her death.
'Looking good, Heartbreaker' ... A Facebook exchange between Sarah Cafferkey (pictured) and Steven James Hunter. Photo: Facebook
On November 4, Hunter complimented Ms Cafferkey on some photographs of herself she posted on Facebook, and the two of them talked about catching up for a drink.
Hunter has also posted a number of photographs of his small dog on Facebook, and a neighbour of the Point Cook house referred to a man staying there as having a small dog. The neighbour said she had not seen anybody at the house in the past week.
In 1986, Hunter was sentenced to a maximum of 16 years' jail for stabbing 18-year-old schoolgirl Jacqueline Cecilia Mathews seven times in the throat and heart, before burning her body in a car under the Arundel Road bridge in Keilor.
Police watch over the crime scene in Point Cook. Photo: Mal Fairclough
Reports at the time said the body was found slumped in the back seat of the car, with a petrol container nearby.
Hunter worked with Ms Mathews as the assistant manager at a Gladstone Park supermarket, and murdered her on April 19, 1986, after she resisted advances from him.
Hunter - who was living in a Westmeadows caravan park at the time and had previous convictions for assault and carrying an offensive weapon - tried to claim at his 1988 trial that he had rebuffed advances from Ms Mathews, and that they had struggled, before he accidentally stabbed her with a small knife.
Steven James Hunter.
The judge described his version of events as ''patently absurd'', saying ''it only needs stating to have its ridiculousness revealed''. Hunter went back to work after the killing and told his workmates what had happened, before returning to the scene and setting fire to the car.
The judge said Hunter had shown no signs of guilt or contrition over his killing of a ''attractive, vivacious and outward-going young woman''.
It is believed Hunter served only 12 years of his sentence, and that he has subsequently been convicted of other crimes, including kidnapping and sex offences.
At a 1987 inquest into Ms Mathews' death, friends and relatives of the dead girl attempted to attack Hunter as he sat in the court room.
A newspaper report from the time said the trouble began after Ms Mathews' mother, Audrey, rose to give evidence.
''Clutching the handkerchief and trembling with emotion, she turned to Hunter and said: 'You bastard, you got my daughter!' Immediately about three people sitting behind Hunter in the packed courtroom rose and tried to grab him,'' the report said.
Steven James Hunter as he appears on his Facebook profile. Photo: Facebook
Hunter then tried to run, before police stepped in to save him from the enraged attackers.
''Calm was restored after about five minutes - with Hunter sobbing in a corner as police held back attackers,'' the newspaper said.
Two years after his murder conviction, Hunter was one of three inmates - including another murderer - who tried to escape from Pentridge Prison.
The three men tore timber from the wall of a prison gym to make ladders and then used knotted-together sheets to get over the outside wall.
Fellow escapee David McInness was caught outside the jail, while Hunter made it into a nearby house, where an elderly woman found him washing his wounds in a sink.
Hunter fled the house, tried to commandeer a ute driven by a former Collingwood footballer, and was finally caught by police hiding under a trampoline in a street near the prison.
Hunter recently posted on his Facebook page that a relationship with a woman he called V had ended, but he said he wished the woman well.
''Got the Dear John/It's not you but me letter today,'' he wrote.
''It's soul destroying that we are over V, tomorrow's a new day and you won't be there. Wish you well for where ever your journey leads and thanks for the many memories I take with me.''
The post was tagged with the location 'Alamanda Estate Point Cook'.
He also said he was training for a licence to drive excavators, bobcats and front-end loaders, and that: ''I'm really happy I've turned my life around.''
The father of the man who rented the house in Point Cook where Ms Cafferkey's body was found said on Tuesday he had not spoken with his son.
He said he was not "aware of all the details" but was flying back to Melbourne from Africa on Wednesday morning.
The man's employer in West Melbourne said he rang on Monday morning to say he wouldn't be coming to work. He was described as ''a good employee'' and was expected to be away from work for several days.
Police have urged anyone who sees Hunter to not approach him and call triple-0 immediately. A spokeswoman was not able to confirm whether the search for Hunter had moved interstate.
- with Jared Lynch