Perhaps one of the most brutal murderers in Australian history Mark Valera is not as well known as some, such as John Bunting or Ivan Milat. Although his death toll was not very high the sheer brutality of the murders and further events that followed shocked the nation to it’s core.
On June 12th 1998, David O’hearn a shopkeeper in Wollongong, a coastal city in NSW Australia was slaughtered mercilessly in his home. A crystal wine decanter had been used to bash in his head until he died of blunt force trauma. His body was then decapitated, and mutilated horribly. His headless corpse was found with his pants down and his penis had been mutilated with a corkscrew, he had been disembowelled with the remnants of his intestines next his body on a silver tray and also in other parts of the house, the handle of a hammer had been inserted into his rectum and his body had multiple stab wounds and lacerations. One severed hand was then found on the couch that had been cut off to use as a macabre tool to paint satanic symbols (inverted cross, pentagram and the word satan) on walls of the house and a mirror.) His head was then located in the partially filled kitchen sink with one eye gouged out.
When David’s shop remained closed that day a relative decided to check on him, since it was out of character for him to not open his shop, this is when she made the grisly discovery. The realisation that David had been murdered was beyond comprehension for many people that knew him. They could not understand why anyone would want to hurt let alone brutally murder the compassionate, quiet sixty three year old shopkeeper.
Detectives realised quite early into the investigation that they were dealing with someone that had potentially committed the murder as a homosexual hate crime despite the fact that the house had also been ransacked. They had noted this because of the nature of the injuries sustained and the fact that the body had been interfered with sexually. Detectives felt that the wounds inflicted upon Mr O’Hearn were too extreme to be a simple robbery gone wrong and that the person that had committed this crime was filled with rage that simply couldn’t be contained.
Since the murder had reflected heavy satanic content, police decided to look at anyone involved in satanic activity. They quickly found Keith Schreiber who lived on the same street as O’Hearn. He became a prime suspect early on, when they visited his residence and he was not home, his housemate let police in to check his bedroom. They found drawings of pentagrams, headless bodies and disembowelment eerily mirroring what they had seen in the murder. Police interviewed both the housemate and Schreiber’s boss, hoping to reveal more evidence, but they asked for an alibi detectives found that Schreiber could not have committed the crime as he was with his employer at the time of the murder.
Then on June 26th, exactly two weeks from the date of the O’Hearn murder, Former Lord Mayor Frank Arkell was found murdered in his home. The crime scene eerily reflected the murder of David O’Hearn as again the victim was killed with blunt force trauma to the head with an object already inside the house. This time it was a lamp, it’s cord had also been wrapped around Arkell’s neck. Although the injuries were not as severe as Mr O’Hearn’s, Mr Arkell’s body had also been mutilated. A wood stake had been used to stab him in the throat and when it had lodged in the victims throat and broken off the killer had decided to shove tie pins into his victims face, one in each eye and then one deeply imbedded in his cheek.
Initially the public were not too shocked that someone had wanted Frank Arkell dead as he had been accused (but later acquitted) of being an active paedophile. Police spoke to all the young men that had made allegations against the former mayor but all of their alibis checked out so with no new suspects the detectives tried a new angle.
Police searched for similarities and connections between the two victims. The only real similarity the victims had in their lives was that they were both homosexual. Initially both the public and media had spawned rumours that both O’Hearn and Arkell were involved in a paedophile ring and were well acquainted but these rumours were quickly put to bed as there was no factual evidence to support there outrageous claims.
Detectives continued to scour Arkell’s house, they find that the killer has left behind a pair of black nike track pants that had been turned inside out, as if they’d been taken off in a hurry and a pair of blood-soaked colorado boots, they also noted that a pair of Arkell’s pants are missing. The killer had now brazenly left behind a vital clue to his identity. Crime stoppers aired a commercial featuring the clothing with the hope of someone recognising the items.
The commercial payed off, they received a call from a woman claiming that her ex boyfriend had regularly worn the exact same boots and pants featured on the crime stoppers commercial. She added that he no longer wore them and when she had questioned him about the items he became extremely aggressive and would not give her an answer. She gave the the police his name, it was the nineteen year old unemployed, Mark Van Krevel.
Police began surveilling Mark closely, they could not take any chances that if he was in fact the killer that he might strike again. They found that coincidentally and unbelievably Mark was good friends with their first suspect Keith Schreiber and was Schreiber’s roommate at the time of the first murder. Being an alibi witness for Schreiber much earlier in the investigation Van Krevel had been given an interview that had been kept in police files. The interview file was then tested for fingerprints and then compared with the fingerprints found at both crime scenes, they were a match. Van Krevel had been right under their noses from the beginning and they weren’t prepared to let him slip through the cracks again.
Police began preparing to arrest Van Krevel, all the preparations were being made when he suddenly decided to confess to his horrific crimes to his unsuspecting Tae Kwon Do instructor. The instructor went for a drive with Van Krevel and ultimately convinced him to turn himself in.
Mark Van Krevel admitted in meticulous detail the crimes he had committed to the police, he divulged that he had simply “Just wanted to kill someone.” the day that he had murdered David O’Hearn. He had gained access to O’Hearn’s house by knocking on the door of the residence and asking about a room to rent. O’Hearn, having a good heart and fearing the young man might be in danger of becoming homeless let Van Krevel into his home. He had fooled Frank Arkell in a similar fashion claiming to be a homeless homosexual teenager, Arkell had also wanted to help this young man, only to his own demise.
Upon searching Van Krevel’s residence detectives found an A-Z book of serial killers and a multitude of satanic memorabilia, bolstering proof of Van Krevel’s fascination with death and killing. Even more disturbing inside the Serial Killer’s book was a chilling note, it read – who will be my number 3?
Although Valera had turned himself in and was incarcerated for the rest of his natural life there was still, strangely enough and just as Mark had predicted, a victim number three. In this same book A-Z of serial killers he had written a number of names, included in the book were his first two victims David O’hearn and Frank Arkell.
Instead of admitting full guilt for his actions he had decided he would shift the blame onto his father. Jack Van Krevel, Mark claimed that Jack had sexually assaulted him as a child and that this had instilled a hate for homosexuals in him at a young age. This burning hate would in Valera’s opinion cause him to act out and commit these horrific and violent acts.
Most people who knew Jack were certain he could’ve never commited these horrible acts, he had been a strict father but certainly never a sexually violent one. Unfortunately there were some people close to Jack who did believe Marks claims, one of the people who believed it was Jack’s nineteen year old daughter Belinda.
Belinda had been seeing Mark’s friend Keith Schreiber who had been a suspect in the first two murders. Keith had been equally as disturbed as Mark. They had read books on satanism and murder together, they would spend hours talking about how to kill people, the most painful ways to toture people and how to disect a dead body. Given that Schreiber had this obsession with death and suffering it’s not too surprising what happened next.
Belinda being an extremely manipulative young woman would tell Keith that her father needed to die for what he had done to Mark and that he didn’t trust him around her two year old daughter. She had told Schreiber that she wanted him “done in” and she offered him $2000 to do it. Schreiber also believed Mark’s claims and had decided that Jack did have to die, to keep Belinda and her young child safe and for justice for Mark.
On the 18th of August 2000 in the early hours of the morning Schreiber entered the Van Krevel home using a window that Belinda had left open for him. Upon entering the home he found various weapons (a knife, a small axe and a firepoker) that Belinda had placed in plain view for him to use in the slaying of her father.
Belinda claimed to have awoken to “Weird noises, like someone being killed.” She claimed that she did not investigate as she feared for hers and her daughters safety. It is reported that the daughter had asked her mother “What’s happening to Poppy?” during the attack. These noises were of course Jack Van Krevel being murdered by Keith Schreiber in the next room. Jack had stabbed a total of sixteen times as well as having being struck twenty five times, his throat had been almost completely severed. The murder was brutal, Jack had taken some time to pass when being interviewed Keith recalled the incident with one chilling, remorseless statement during the attack he recalled saying to Jack “Die you fuck, hurry up and fucking die.”
When the noises had stopped and she was sure the attacker had left Belinda didn’t bother to check on her father. Instead she put her daughter in the car and drove to Warilla Police Station. She claimed she did not know who had murdered her father. When promoted by detectives she claimed that she thought maybe Keith would do it for Mark but Keith was “gutless” so she was pretty sure it couldn’t have been him.
Although Belinda’s admissions were an attempt to throw police off they honed in on Schreiber and arrested him at a train station where he was taken into custody where he promptly confessed “I done it, happy?” When asked why did it he said that he had felt depressed and angry and that he felt Jack should pay for what he had done to Belinda and Mark. He had told Jack “This is for Mark, you fucking paedophile bastard, you’ll never molest another kid again.” As he began his merciless attack on Jack.
Van Krevel had continually maintained her innocence and denied any relationship between herself and Schreiber but it wasn’t long before the police connected the dots and realised she was the mastermind behind the killing of her father. She had spent a considerable ammount of time with Keith the day of the murder and Keith had vaguely admitted to police that he had known that “Belinda wanted him done in.” Belinda’s mother Carol had also come forward with information on a contract on Jack’s life that Belinda had apparently solicited. Belinda strongly denied these allegations but she could not deny or explain away the paper trail that linked her to the murder contract.
Belinda was sentenced to six years in prison for soliciting the murder of her father and Keith was sentenced to a minimum of eleven years. If you’re wondering what Mark has to do with this final murder, well one of the names in his book of victims was of course – Jack Van Krevel.
(Side note) After serving her sentence it seems Belinda still can’t stay out of trouble, in 2013 she stabbed her boyfriend a number of times and was charged with intent to cause grevious bodily harm. Just in March this year (2017) she was charged with theft after stealing a woman’s handbag while she ate lunch. It’s a good thing only one of these sibling are free, imagine the harm both of them would get up to.
From Left –
The Book of victims, The murder scene of David O’hearn, Mark Valera, Keith Schreiber, Belinda Van Krevel and the Wine Decanter used in the murder of David O’hearn.