ELISHA Rose didn't have a typical childhood. She had to keep a terrible secret from people around her - her father Lindsey was a murderer.

He started killing when she was just four months old and continued up until she was 11, when he murdered his fourth and fifth victims. Rose would eventually go on the run for a year, before finally being captured and later confessing to all five murders.

His killing spree lasted a decade. His first victims were Bill Cavanagh and Carmelita Lee in 1984. The couple were gunned down in their home. Three years later the third victim, Reynette Holford, was stabbed to death with a screwdriver as Rose robbed her.

Then on Valentine's Day 1994, Kerrie Pang and Fatma Ozanal were found dead in a burning massage parlour in Sydney's west. Ms Pang had been stabbed while Ms Ozanal had been shot three times.

Rose was a former paramedic, and saved many lives at Sydney's Granville train disaster in 1977.

Twenty years later, he pleaded guilty to the murder of five people and a host of associated crimes earning him a never-to-be-released life term when he was sentenced in 1998.

Elisha has had to live with the horror of his crimes hanging over her since then.

"My father's actions have created horrific trauma, loss and grief to their families and that will be intergenerational trauma for those families," she tells ABC's Australian Story.

She can pinpoint the exact moment she learned the truth about her father.

Lindsey Robert Rose arriving at NSW Supreme Court in handcuffs where he pleaded guilty to five murder charges.
Lindsey Robert Rose arriving at NSW Supreme Court in handcuffs where he pleaded guilty to five murder charges.

It was 1996 and then aged 12 years old, Ms Rose returned to her Perth home to find her mother sitting at the table with two homicide detectives from Sydney. They quizzed her about what she remembered about him, and contact they'd had in recent years.

Later that night she was kneeling in front of the television watching a replay of the Sydney news when she discovered the truth.

"I remember the burnt orange patterned curtains that hung on either side of the TV. I remember holding on to the old steamer trunk that belonged to my great-great grandmother that served the dual purpose of coffee table and storage for my old baby clothes," she told the program.

Her most vivid memory though was the sheer shock of it.

From then on Ms Rose's life had changed forever. The police returned one day to tell her she could be a possible target for those wanting revenge on her father. She was placed in a witness protection program and was never to be left alone for fear of someone attempting to abduct her, or worse.

As she got older, keeping such a hard secret didn't get any easier. In fact, it got worse.

"Life continued despite the upheaval, except that I carried a secret with me everywhere - my father killed five people," Ms Rose said.

Edward Cavanagh and wife Carmelita Lee were murdered by Lindsay Rose.
Edward Cavanagh and wife Carmelita Lee were murdered by Lindsay Rose.

She studied law at university, and then went on to study criminal justice. In an attempt to understand what he did she wrote letters to him in jail and even visited him. But she couldn't shake the feeling that it would somehow fall on her to try and atone for what her father had done.

"I felt an immeasurable weight on my shoulders and like I owed a debt to society far beyond the usual karmic balance one must try to keep even," Ms Rose said.

It wasn't easy though. And the more she grappled with what he'd done, the more difficult it became for her.

"The harder I tried to understand my father's actions and to make sense of my life, the more complex and intricate the puzzle became," she toldAustralian Story.

It wasn't as if she thought she personally owed society something - that was all her father's doing. But she couldn't shake the feeling that it was up to her to at least try and right his wrongs.

She tried a number of things - community work, working for charities and using her legal skills to help those less fortunate than herself.

Rose shot and killed Fatma Ozonal and then shot and stabbed former girlfriend Kerrie Pang.
Rose shot and killed Fatma Ozonal and then shot and stabbed former girlfriend Kerrie Pang.

The whole time, though, she didn't tell anyone about her dark family history.

"The older I became, the more I understood about life, the deeper the secret about my father was buried. A few of my nearest and dearest friends knew of my father, but I had no idea how to navigate the reveal to my wider circle of friends and colleagues."

Then came an opportunity. She was approached by a writer who wanted to tell her story. Doing so would at least unburden her from her secret. But it would also blow wide open what she'd been keeping from the world.

Author Campbell McConachie also went through a period of soul-searching. He knew Ms Rose's father as someone he met drinking at a bar in Sydney's inner-west. He knew a little of his colourful past, but nothing of the murders.

Lindsey Rose and a young Elisha. Picture: ABC
Lindsey Rose and a young Elisha. Picture: ABC

In his book about Rose, called The Fatalist, he writes Rose was "ebullient and he would give you his full attention". He was sociable and very confident.

He had 25 interviews with Rose in Supermax prison about his crimes and his life. Rose told him he trusted him to tell his story properly and took issue with his previous portrayal as a hitman.

Mr McConachie toldThe Guardian the reality was more complicated than him simply being a hired killer.

After the book was written he told him the finished product didn't reflect him in a good light.

Rose was unconcerned.

"Fair enough. I did kill five people," he said.

The Australian Story airs tonight 8:00pm on ABC TV

 

NSW murder victim Reynette Holford.
NSW murder victim Reynette Holford.
Massage worker Fatma Ozonal.
Massage worker Fatma Ozonal.
The massage parlour at Gladesville which Rose set alight.
The massage parlour at Gladesville which Rose set alight.
Rose’s former girlfriend Kerrie Pang.
Rose’s former girlfriend Kerrie Pang.


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