By Blake O’Connor
Captured fugitive Malcolm Naden was one of Australia’s most notorious and infamous criminals, having been responsible for a wave of offences that left several injured, homes ransacked and two people dead.
Now, after 11 years of anxious waiting, the family of murder victim Lateesha Nolan, just 25 at the time of her death in 2005, will receive some closure after one of her bones was discovered south of Dubbo.
Police have confirmed that a bone found by a member of the public matches the DNA of Lateesha, who was killed by her cousin Malcolm Naden before he continued on a vicious crime spree. The victim’s mother, Joan Nolan, has expressed relief:
“It’s a long time coming but I can now lay my daughter to rest where she deserves to be and the grandkids can go see their mother and have a place for her… we’ve got some sort of closure now”.
Police are now focused on finding the rest of Lateesha’s remains.
Before justice caught up with him, Malcolm Naden brutally murdered two young women and led police on a manhunt for seven years before he was locked behind bars for life in 2013 by NSW Supreme Court Justice Derek Price.
This latest discovery brings to a close the extraordinary criminal history of Naden, which started out in 2004 when he indecently assaulted a 12 year old girl in Dubbo. He was confronted about the assault by Lateesha Nolan who Naden then strangled to death, dismembered and buried.
Five months after the murder, Naden struck again. This time, he strangled and murdered 24 year old Kristy Scholes and proceeded to have sex with her lifeless body before fleeing and leading police on a state-wide manhunt for the next six and a half years.
The manhunt cost taxpayers millions of dollars and involved an elaborate cat-and-mouse game with the experienced bushman. He survived by living off the land, and breaking into people’s homes to stealing additional food, clothing and alcohol. Police came close to capturing Naden on several occasions, but he evaded them each time.
Naden broke in Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo in December 2005, where he lived within animal enclosures, even expertly butchering Kangaroos to survive. His determination to survive and evade capture was exemplified by a confrontation with police at Nowendoc, where he shot a Senior Constable through the shoulder with a self-loading rifle.
By this point, police had tried everything they could to track him down, including placing scores of motion sensors in Hunter Valley bush cabins and offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Run comes to an end
Naden was finally captured after police used sniffer dogs to track him down in Gloucester and surrounded his bush cabin.
He is reported to have said “thank god it’s over, I’ve had enough”. Chuck, the police dog who ultimately located Naden, was hailed as a hero and captivated the public’s attention highlighting the important work that animals do in criminal investigations.
After Naden’s capture, the full extent of his crimes were laid bare in a lengthy handwritten confession where he admitted to many of his crimes. He wrote:
“If it wasn’t her (Nolen) it would have been someone else … I must leave the why’s up to a therapist to help me solve these puzzles that have us both questioning and looking for answers … I just know something went wrong somewhere and I am unable to put my finger on it. It seems as though I must have my own search party, plumb the depths of myself and see what it uncovers”.
The Nolan family intend to lay Lateesha to rest once the rest of her remains are located.