Case Studies
‘Bondi Beast’- Serial Rapist Identified by DNA Technology After 40 Years

‘Bondi Beast’- Serial Rapist Identified by DNA Technology After 40 Years

‘Bondi Beast’, a serial rapist who terrorized women in Sydney’s eastern suburbs for almost four decades, had been recognized by the New South Wales (NSW) police, with the help of DNA technology.

It was during the period between 1985 and 2001, when around 31 women have been raped by this ‘Bondi Beast’. All the victims were attacked either at their homes or while jogging.

He was also regarded as, “the Tracksuit rapist”, as according to the victims, the culprit had his face covered and wore casual clothes, like tracksuits, hoodies or football shorts.

In the initial investigation, the detectives believed that there were different men behind the attacks, but when they moved towards the DNA analysis technology, they got their real culprit.

The DNA testing revealed the culprit to be a 66-year-old man named Keith Simms, who belonged to Sydney’s La Perouse. When the police reached at the residence of Simms, they found out that he had died this February, because of kidney failure.

Simms first attack was in the seaside suburb of Clovelly in 1985, while his last assault took place at a nearby cemetery in 2001. All his victims were aged between 15-55 years.

When the victims were interrogated they all gave similar descriptions of their assailant, which states that- he was 160 to 180 cm tall, had a dark complexion, brown eyes and a wide nose. And he either threatened them with a knife, or made them believe he had one on him.

The detectives of the State Crime Command’s sex crime squad have spent years analyzing these 31 incidents of actual or attempted sexual assault. Initially all these incidents were investigated individually, but police began linking them in the 2000s.

After 20 years of the first attack, i.e., in 2005, the detectives got the first major breakthrough in the case. During the investigation the sex crime squad detectives discovered a scene-to-scene DNA link between five assaults that occurred around the year 2000, including one at Randwick Cemetery.

A team of detectives of Strike Force Doreen began reviewing evidence including thousands of documents, victim statements and crime scene photographs.

A review under the Cold Case Justice Project identified seven further cases linked by DNA, taking the total to 12, however, the case went cold again. It got another breakthrough in 2016, when a random search of the police DNA database revealed a familial match to the samples provided by victims.

By this time, the investigation expanded to a total of 31 attacks out of which 12 were connected by DNA and 19 by modus operandi.

Detective Sergeant Dan Walker from the police DNA management unit said this was the moment the investigation accelerated. He said that it was the first real starting point from a forensic viewpoint.

Eventually in 2019 the detectives got another match, but this was a different form of match as it was a Y-DNA match.

The same year the NSW Police started utilising Y-DNA matching and here it served up a new focus for detectives– a sprawling family tree featuring 324 individuals.

An old-fashioned detective work was applied by the detectives in a process of elimination, that focused on the age and location of the relevant family members. This ultimately led them to Keith Simms on September 3 this year.

Police obtained a DNA sample of Simms through a warrant but have not disclosed the source of sample. When the DNA was matched with that of the suspect, the results obtained were positive for Simms. However, Simms will never be charged as he died earlier this year.

Detective Acting Inspector Shelley Johns from Strike Force Doreen broke the news to Simms wife and according to him the revelation was a devastating blow to the family.

When Simms distraught family encountered the truth they told the police that they had no idea about him leading a double life, as according to them he was a loving and devoted husband as well as father.

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