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How Notoriously Prolific Serial Killer ‘The Night Caller’ Was Caught With A Fishing Line

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How Notoriously Prolific Serial Killer ‘The Night Caller’ Was Caught With A Fishing Line

Eric Edgar Cooke was one of Australia’s most notorious serial killers, committing over 250 robberies and murdering at least eight people whilst embarking on a terrifying killing spree in Perth during the 1950s.

But like most serial killers, eventually Cooke’s luck ran out, and the killer known locally as ‘The Night Caller’ was caught by police, thanks to a fishing line and some creative thinking.

Edgar Cooke was born in 1931 and was troubled from a young age. With abusive parents and a cleft lip he was often bullied by other kids, and quickly developed into a troubled young man with an extensive record of petty crime.

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After being kicked out of the military due to his rap sheet he got married and fathered seven children, but that did nothing to temper his love of petty crime.

Credit: YouTube/Reel Truth Crime
Credit: YouTube/Reel Truth Crime

In 1959, Cooke’s crimes started to escalate. First he stabbed a young woman, then a month later strangled a social worker in West Perth. Shortly after that he committed his first murder, killing a 22-year-old woman in her home using a tomahawk and a pair of scissors.

Cooke then continued to escalate his attacks, murdering a 17-year-old girl in a hit and run and proceeding to do the same on a number of subsequent occasions, breaking into people’s cars at night and committing murders whilst joyriding, before returning them in the morning with their owners none the wiser.

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During this time several other men were accused of committing the crimes and were falsely imprisoned for Cooke’s murders, which only encouraged him to go further.

In 1963, Cooke committed his most terrifying crime spree yet, shooting five people at random in a horrific massacre, before targeting and killing another two a month later. Yet another man was falsely accused of the killings and was hanged by authorities whilst Cooke walked free.

But six months later, Cooke made a fatal mistake - upon murdering his latest victim, an 18-year-old babysitter, Cooke left his weapon, a .22 pistol, at the scene of the crime.

Credit: YouTube/Reel Truth Crime
Credit: YouTube/Reel Truth Crime
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Police seized on the discovery, and quickly scoured the area for anyone owning a gun of that model. But despite finding 60,000 weapons and fingerprinting 30,000 men, their big break came almost entirely by chance.

In 1963 a passing couple discovered a gun stashed inside a bush and promptly contacted the authorities, who upon inspection confirmed that it was the gun used by the killer. The police then embarked upon a sting operation to lure Cooke out, replacing the real gun with a replica that couldn’t fire ammo and tied it to the bush using a piece of fishing wire that was hard to detect and move.

They then waited seventeen days for the killer to return to the scene of the crime to collect his weapon, and arrested Cooke on the spot after catching him red-handed attempting to retrieve the fake gun. Mission accomplished.

Credit: YouTube/Reel Truth Crime
Credit: YouTube/Reel Truth Crime
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Following his arrest, Cooke told police his reasoning for the murders was the overwhelming sense of power he felt after buying a gun, combined with an irresistible urge to kill. He confessed to all of his crimes- eight murders and another 14 murder attempts- and was charged with 'wilful murder' in 1963.

In 1964 Cooke was put to death by hanging, ending ‘The Night Caller’s’ reign of terror and making the last man to be executed by the state in Western Australia.

Featured Image Credit: Credit: Reel Truth Crime - Crime Documentary/YouTube

Topics: News, True crime, Australia

Tom Sanders
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