The myth that Malcolm Naden is a master bushman, a legendary figure befitting a folk hero, really irks police.
The reality, according to homicide squad boss Michael Willing, is far less impressive.
”He’s a psychopath,” Detective Superintendent Willing said. ”And he was lucky. He was no master bushman.”
Police have revealed for the first time just how much Naden has talked to them about the seven years he spent on the run after murdering two women in Dubbo in 2005.
Naden’s life sentence last month for the murders of Kristy Scholes and Lateesha Nolan in his home town of Dubbo ended an extraordinary chapter in Australian criminal history.
He was arrested in dense bushland near Nowendoc on March 22 last year, having spent 2466 nights in the wilderness to evade police. As soon as he was arrested, Superintendent Willing ordered no one go near him except two lead homicide detectives, Ricky Hennessy and Paul Mangan. He knew they had to build a rapport; they needed him to confess.
Initially, Superintendent Willing explained, Naden had to get used to using his own voice, having not spoken to anyone for such a long time. But he quickly became open and lucid.
He explained how he ”just thought day-to-day, about surviving”. And he was meticulous about his hygiene. ”He actually brushed his teeth … he knew that a minor ailment could be the end of him,” Superintendent Willing said.
Naden also put to rest a long-held police fear that he was getting help from a community keen to create a myth and outsmart the brass. ”He told us, ‘I couldn’t trust anyone.”’
He said that after the failed heavily-armed police raid on Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo in 2005, he headed east, traversing almost 350 kilometres of bushland.
”He said he basically walked from Dubbo across to Barrington Tops. He doesn’t know [how long it took], he said he just focused on a landmark and kept walking.”
Naden would not discuss the murders initially, but admitted shooting one of the officers who had found his campsite in December 2011. ”He was really reaching back into his psyche to talk about this stuff,” Superintendent Willing said.
Less than three weeks after his arrest, Naden handed detectives two handwritten pages confessing to his crimes.
In another 25-page explanatory confession, he details his offences in horrific detail. ”The handwriting is very neat, and in it he talks about both murders and he goes into length, three pages, describing what it was like to strangle Lateesha,” Superintendent Willing said. ”Clearly he’s fantasising it as he writes it.”
He even quoted Shakespeare, as well as the famous line from Unforgiven: ”It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man”.
But it is the glorification of a man who devastated a Dubbo family that still jars with Superintendent Willing.
”The whole Ned Kelly, master-bushman thing started from the night we found Kristy’s body, because he had books on that sort of stuff there … I remember he had Sun Su’s The Art of War laying there next to her body.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.