Did You Lock The Door?
Did You Lock The Door?

Episode 15 · 2 years ago

Mystery in Australia: Who was the Rack Man?


Hi, welcome to did you lock the door? The podcast. I'm your host, Peyton Reese, and today I'm switching things up a little bit from my usual formula. Usually we have a pretty set perpetrator and or victim and I start out by giving you some details on their early lives. But that is not the case with today's case. And today's case is also going to take us all the way to Australia, which I'm really excited about. I've noticed a spike in listeners from Australia recently, so thank you, guys, so so much for that. That's really exciting, and I thought the perfect thank you would be to do one of your most infamous cold cases. So today I'm going to be talking to you guys about he's known as either the rack man or the Crucifix Man of Australia. So, without further ado, let's get into it. In the early morning hours of August eleven one thousand nine hundred and ninety four, the fishing crew of a boat called the lady Marion was having a seemingly normal morning, casting large nets down into Australia's hawksberry river, and that river is located just north of Sydney. Most of their nets were coming up filled with squid, as per usual, when suddenly one of the nets got caught on something. As the crew struggled to pull it up, what appeared to be a metal frame tied together with rope came into view. The crews captain, a man named Mark Peterson, later recounted seeing plastic bags tied to the frame. As the crew continued to pull the frame up higher and higher, Peterson looked closer and closer. He was shocked to see what would look like a human bone sticking out of one of the bags. When whatever they had discovered was pulled up into the boat in its entirety, the crew came to a grewsome realization. What they had initially believed to be scrap metal and trash turned out to be a makeshift crucifix. Attached to the crucifix with a frenzy of wires and ropes was a human body. The crewmen immediately alerted the authorities and the body was quickly transported to a medical examiner named Doctor Christopher Lawrence, who worked with the New South Wales Institute of Forensic Science. He removed the bags that covered the remains and noted that the corpse was wearing and everything Australia brand's Polo shirt and track pants, both of which were found to be mass produced in Australia and would likely not be helpful in...

...identification of the body. He also noted the presence of hair, skin tissue and that the body was covered in something called at a post here, also known as corpse wax. At a post here is a wax like organic substance, forms by the ANAEROBIC bacterial hydrolysis of fat in tissue, such as body fat in corpses. If you're like me, you don't have the slightest idea what anaerobic bacterial hydrolysis means. So, from what I could find, the simplest explanation is that this is a process that occurs when bacteria breaks down an environment that lacks oxygen. So, with the corpse being underwater for presumably a long amount of time, that makes a lot of sense. This isn't super important to the story, I mean the corpse wax isn't, but it was something that I'd never heard of, despite the countless autopsy reports that I've read, so I wanted to share it with you all. I thought it was pretty interesting. Dr Lawrence, who again is the forensic examiner, found that the remains were that of a male and that he had likely been in the Hawkesberry River between six and twelve months at the time of his discovery. At the same time, and emeritus professor named Donald Anderson, who worked at the University of Sydney, analyzed the growth of the barnacles found on the metal frame and determined that the frame and there or the body had been underwater for less than twelve months, which would confirm the findings of Dr Laurence. Remember, he said six to twelve months, so it's the same time frame. Professor Anderson did note, however, that while it was unlikely, it was not impossible that the body had been submerged for over a year. After analyzing the hair and tissue found on the body, Dr Lawrence, who was the medical examiner, not the guy that did the Barnacles, was able to determine that the victim was a dark haired Caucasian male of either European or Mediterranean descent. He was likely between the ages of twenty one and forty six, which admittedly is a pretty big gap, and he stood between five foot two and five foot for he determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head. However, Dr Laurence was not able to determine whether the victim had been killed before or after being fixed to the crucifix. A combination of decomposition and water erosion had deteriorated the victim's fingerprints to the point that they could no longer be tested. Additionally, police could not find any missing persons cases in the area that match the description and with nothing at all found on the body that could help with the man's identification, they began to realize that this case would be harder than they thought. Discovering who this man was and why he had been killed was looking like it would be very difficult to establish. Without...

...knowing who their victim was, it's hard to find a motive and it's hard to find a perpetrator. They knew pretty quickly that they had a pretty big challenge in front of them. A forensic and a Thomas named Maya's Soutis no created a digital construction of the man based off of Dr Lawrence's findings. Different variations were created that each sported different hair styles in the hopes of making it easier for anyone that may have known him to identify him because, although hair was found, definitely wasn't like a full head of hair. It was just a few strands. So they didn't know what kind of hair style he sported in life. So I think that makes a lot of sense. I mean I think that's a really good idea. He could have had long hair, he could have added short hair, he could have been a bowl cut, he could have had a buzz cut. So I think it's really very smart that they put him out with so many different hair styles. These images were widely broadcast throughout Australia, both on the front pages of newspapers and on the TV show Australia's most wanted. This generated thousands of tips, many of which mentioned two men in particular. The first man whose name was continuously brought up was Joe Viviano. Viviano had been born in one thousand nine hundred and sixty three, which would have made him thirty years old at the time of the murder, and that match the forensic findings perfectly. He also matched the physical description of the victim that Dr Laurence took come up with. He was five foot for had dark hair and was of European descent. Other aspects of Biviano's life also the police to believe that he was a pretty good candidate for their rack man. Upon their examination of the crucifix that the victim had been fixed to, it was determined that it had been custom made to fit whoever this man was. They came to this conclusion based on the fact that the victim's height and Armspan matched up perfectly with the beams used to make the crucifix. Five two to five foot four are both under the average height for adult men of European and or Mediterranean descent, so it was more than likely that, had this crucifix been made, which is a random victim in mind, it wouldn't have been made for someone so short, for lack of a better term. Police were also able to determine that the crucifix was immaculately made, noting that the welding job was incredibly concise and appeared very professional. Additionally, it has been reported that the crucifix, especially with a body attached to it, would have been far too heavy for just one man to carry, indicating to perpetrators at the very least, but likely three or four. All of this information at first led the police to consider the possibility of a satanic cult, mostly due to the religious connotations of the crucifix. After exploring this avenue, however, police somehow came to the conclusion and that this was likely the results...

...of some sort of organized crime gang. There isn't a whole lot out on the Internet right now about why the police came to the conclusion that it did relate to gang activity, but the police have said that there was a plethora of gang activity and in around the Sydney area at the time, with some rival gangs even engaging in a sort of gang warfare with each other and it just got very violent and very dirty, and I'm sure they know more than we do, but that makes sense to me why they would assume that Rackman could have been involved in gang activity and that's what led to his brutal and tragic death. And the reason that all this information led police to believe that Biviano might be a good match is because he was a convicted drug dealer that had recently been released from prison and was operating in the Sydney area at the time of his disappearance. Police would theorize that perhaps Viviano had some sort of falling out or rivalry with other drug deals also operating in the Sydney area and that this had led to his death. I was not able to find what kind of drugs Bivy Ono delts, but I was assumed that it was harder drugs than like simply marijuana or something. I mean, it's possible that a lower level drug dealer could find themselves in the situation that the rack man found themselves in, but we generally see the more brutal murders and crimes with more intense drug operations than with someone who, you know, simply sells we'd here and there. So I just can't imagine a local weed dealer who sold a dimebag or two here and there would piss someone off enough to be tied to a cross, then beaten to death and thrown into a river and the hopes that they wouldn't be found. That just doesn't seem super realistic to me, but I mean, who knows, there's some crazy people out there. The second man that was continuously brought up in connection to this case was a man named Peter Matrese matres was a businessman of Mediterranean descent, and he had gone missing from King's cross, Australia, in one thousand nine hundred and ninety one. Several reports came in naming Matrese as the victim, and those reports also mentioned that they had heard his body had been dumped in a body of water, just like the rack man. My trees, however, was easier to rule out. He stood at a much taller ten. Remember, the victim is believed to be between five two and five four, and in his case, police were able to access dental records that could be compared to the victim, the rack man, that they had found, and thus definitively rule him out. A couple other names kept coming up in tips that the police Gott and one of them was a known gambling addict named Matt Tanseevski, who had recently gone missing. Unfortunately, however, there is not much information about him...

...or his case online. And the second is a very interesting man named Chris Flannery. So flannery really piqued the interest of the Australia police when they learned that he was suspected to be working as a contract killer that had been given the nickname Mr rent to kill flannery was believed to have accepted paid offers to kill up to fourteen people before he went missing on May nine of one thousand nine hundred and eighty five. One of his many victims has been discovered to be the prominent Australian businessman Roger Wilson. So he wasn't just operating on the low he was killing like highbrow, prominent people in Australia's higher elite circles. flannery would continuously and miraculously find himself acquitted when charges were brought against him, whether they be charges of drugs or homicide, like he was known for. He was charged with rape at one point, but that never moved forward. So it's clear to see that he was a very violent and dangerous man that the justice system just somehow was never able to catch. During a large portion of his career as a contract killer, he was actually married with children. To This Day, his disappearance remains unsolved. And please, guys, let me know if you want me to do an episode on Flannery, because he is quite the character all in his own. I mean, there's so much more that I could say about him, and it's not at all surprised, saying that he came up so often in tips, that the public called in on the rack man, because, with how evil he was, it is totally plausible that someone would do what they did to the Rackman, to Mr Flannery, police would continue to be baffled by the rack man's case. Each lead they got either fizzled out or was not able to be confirmed or denied due to a lack of dental records and or of DNA. However, as we in the true crime community are well aware, recent advancements in DNA testing have brought us answers that we really never thought we would find. A perfect example of this is the very recently solved murder of a young woman named Barbara Blatnick, a very famous cold case that I have long been fascinated by and that we, and, much more importantly, Barbara's family and her loved ones, finally have answers to. So I'm sure you can guess where I'm going with that. In August of two thousand and eighteen, Australia as a country celebrated when the answers to the question who was the rack man finally came out. On January eleven, one thousand nine hundred and ninety three, a local man named Max Tan Sevski said goodbye to his girlfriend as he exited the House that the two shared together. Little did this girlfriend know that this would be the last time she would ever see him. Well, not much as known to the public about Trissevski. We do know that he was quite the gambler.

He didn't seem to be particularly good at it, however, as it was well known by both his friends and his family that he was racking up a pretty sizeable amount of debt. Tan Sepski's girlfriend did not know exactly where he was going when he left their home on that fateful day, but he would often go on two or three day gambling spreeze along Australia's gold coast without telling her, warning her in advance, so she was not immediately alarmed when he did not return home for a couple of days. After almost a week, however, alarm bells did obviously start ringing for her, and when she alerted his family, they agreed that something must be very wrong and he was immediately reported missing. Trussevski had actually been brought up once or twice in the police discussion about the Rackman's identity. After all, he fit the physical description. He was of Mediterranean descent and stood at five foot for he hit the age range as well, having been born in one thousand nine hundred and fifty six, which made him thirty seven at the time of the crime. And now, over two decades later, it has been confirmed, through new advancements in DNA testing, that Max Tressevski was indeed the victim that baffled Australia for so long. What is still unknown, however, is what the motive was for a Tristepski's murder or who the perpetrators were. While please believe that it had something to do with his GAM debts, which obviously makes a lot of sense, just Sewski had no known ties to gangs and no debts to anyone considered dangerous or evengeful enough to commit such a brutal crime. However, with the victim identified, police believe that strides will be made in discovering who did this to him and why. Most importantly, however, the discovery of the Rackman's identity has brought long awaited closure to Max Drusevski's loved ones. We know the WHO, and now the police will work diligently to determine the why. This case is one that I was so excited to do. I was so excited to work on a case from Australia. This is my first one, not my last, but my first, and when I first researched it, actually it took me about an hour to find an article that told me that he had actually been identified. That was so cool to come across those so exciting. I'm so happy for his family that that happened and I'm so happy that that is given the police new leads and new possible motives, I think for this one. In terms of theories, not much about his personal life has been released, other than the fact that he was an avid gambler that was racking up a lot of debt. So I think it is pretty safe to assume that his murder had something to do with his gambling debts. I can't find the exact amount of money that he owed online. I can't find anyone that he owed money too. I just found, like I said a couple minutes ago, that he wasn't known to have any debts or ties to...

...anyone involved in gang warfare or in gangs at all actually or with anyone that was considered dangerous, and this just seems like a very brutal crime if someone didn't owe you a lot of money. I mean he owed a lot of money as a whole, but it was two different people, at least from from what I could find. It was too different people. So it's not like he owed a specific person like a hundred thousand dollars or anything, or I actually I can't confirm or deny that, because it is true that the police have just said, a considerable amount of debt. So I don't know how much that is. You could have vowed a specific person like a stupid amount of money and they just reacted with this. But again, the crucifix was made, at least, please believe it was made specifically for Max Tresevski. He was tied to that crucifix and then beaten to death and then thrown in a river. I mean, that is particularly brutal death for someone that has a gambling debt to you, and especially, I mean, I know like gangs and the Maffia and the mob. I don't know a lot about any of those groups, but I do know that they enact revenge on people that have wronged them, particularly people that owe them money. But again, he had no known ties to any of those groups. So it's just so it's insane to me that some random person that he might have played a poker game or two with and that he now owed some money to would do something so brutal and so horrific to this man. Unfortunately, I don't really have any other theories in this case. I mean the fact that he was such a heavy gambler and he ended up dead. I think it's again I just said this, but I think it's safe to say that that is what killed him. It's only safe to say that, however, because the police and the media have not reported on much of his personal life, and I mean for the sake of the family and for his loved ones, that is a good thing. Obviously they deserved to mourn their friends, their son, their brother, their loved one that was just recently discovered and kind of definitively brought home for them. They deserve the space and the time to mourn him. So I totally understand why the police are not releasing a lot of personal information, but at the same time that does make it difficult for me to come up with a bunch of theories, and I know you guys like theories. I love having a bunch of different theories on a case. I think that makes it so much more fun. But I think what's fun about this case is that it happened in one thousand nine hundred and ninety four and it was solved so recently. The advancements in DNA that are happening have been so exciting for the true crime community and so important for the family members and the loved ones of people whose cases have been solved thanks to these new DNA advancement and Australia Elias Rackman, Aka Max Trasedski, just happen to be one of them.

Thank you, guys so much again for listening. You guys can reach out to me on instagram or twitter at lock the door pod, with KSE suggestions or your theories, or if you just want to say hi. I always want to hear from you. You can also email me with the same kind of stuff at lock the door pod at gmailcom. I also recently started a facebook group for did you lock the door? It's open to the public. All you have to do is like it and you'll get updates and notifications and anything else I post from me. So I would so appreciate if you went and interacted with any of those pages I just told you about. I love hearing from you all. It makes me so happy. If you're up to it and you really enjoy this podcast, if you could give it a five star rating or a good review on whatever platform you're listening on, that would mean so much to me. That helps get the podcast out to other people that might not know about it, and I do a lot of missing persons cases or unsolved cases, so the more people that hear these, the more of a chance there is that someone who knows something might listen. Thank you, guys, so so much for tuning in. I appreciate and love you all. Shout out to my Australian listeners for this week. This one is definitely for you and, as always, make sure you lock your doors by.

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