How Two Women’s Gut Instincts Helped Catch The ‘Silver Gun Rapist’ 

The ‘Silver Gun Rapist’ terrorised Melbourne’s eastern suburbs in the late 1970s. While police worked to identify the offender, two quick-thinking locals played a key role.

Former detective Adrian Paterson worked in a police taskforce set up to catch and arrest the offender who carried a small silver handgun, later known to be Peter John Vaitos.

Ex-cop Adrian Paterson tells the gripping story of how they caught the elusive predator on the Crime Insiders podcast:

The Vigilant Neighbour

The last woman who was attacked was living in Vermont South, east of Melbourne. Paterson was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene. He decided to go door-to-door and talk to neighbours.

“An elderly lady came to the door,” he described talking to a resident a couple of doors down from the incident.

“She said, well, I did see a car […] it was a 1987 XE Ford Falcon. And I paused for a moment and I thought, not in an unpleasant way, but I thought, gee, grandma, that’s pretty definitive.”

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The woman described the vehicle as a dark, inky blue colour with a dent in the tailgate.

“Unfortunately no registration number, but that was a great, exciting moment in the investigation to at least get that.”

A Quick-Thinking Local

The investigation made a rapid turn when a woman approached police with a gut feeling about a man she’d met on the street.

“A woman walking home with some shopping, inclement weather, a bit damp, a vehicle pulled up alongside her, and the person in the car called out, you know, do you want a ride?”

“She thought she didn’t like the look of him very much […] and noted the number down”

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