true crime

As Andrea fled her rapist, she threw her necklace under the bed. It would be his undoing.

Content warning: This post deals with issues around sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers.

In 2007, a woman by the name of Andrea* was walking along the highway near Millaa Millaa in the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland when a man pulled over beside her in his Holden Ute, offering her a lift.

He was polite, she thought. Like a good samaritan recognising someone who needed a hand.

“He was talkative, he was polite. He just made me feel okay to get a lift,” she told 60 Minutes on Sunday night.

When she got in the car, he began driving and didn’t stop until they arrived at his home. He needed fuel, he said. She went in and had a coffee.

“I thought he was actually being helpful and helping me so I could go home,” Andrea recalled.

“He asked me if I wanted to stay overnight, I said no.

“That’s when I noticed that the door was locked, but it wasn’t when we first came in.”

She looked at him and told him she wanted to leave.

“I unlocked the door and said I’m going (but) he caught up to me.”

When he caught up to her, he grabbed her, pulled her arm around her back and started smashing her head with a piece of wood.

Image: Channel 9.

"I thought he was going to kill me then and there," she said. He told her, when she asked why he was doing this, that 'this is rape'.

“He said I was feisty and he liked me because I fought back.

“That’s when I thought, ‘He’s done this before’.”

Andrea was right. His name was Frank Wark and he had done this before, she just didn't know it in that moment. 18 years before, Frank Wark, now 62, abducted and killed a young 17-year-old by the name of Hayley Dodd. Though at the time he was a key suspect, sloppy police work and a refusal by police to prioritise the case meant Wark was able to flee the empty plains of Western Australia where Hayley was taken, making a new life for himself in Queensland.

After being held captive for six hours, being tortured and repeatedly raped, Andrea spotted an opening and ran. She loosened the ropes holding her hands together, grabbed her wallet and, quite remarkably, pulled the necklace off her neck and threw it under his bed.

“I just ran as far as I could run away from him, I didn’t care I was naked or not.

“I was just running for my life to escape.

"Because I was running down the gulley [behind his house], I could hear him echoing to come back. But I just ran all the way to the next house."

At the next house, the neighbours called the police kept her safe. But it was that necklace that was Wark's undoing when the police came knocking.

Frank Wark had no option but to plead guilty to rape, sexual assault and deprivation of liberty. And yet, some thousands of kilometres away, WA police were still nonplussed by the fact their former key suspect in the abduction of Hayley Dodd had just been convicted of a violent crime, while they were yet to find her killer.

In fact, it took until six years later, in 2013, for police to conduct another review of the Hayley Dodd case. Wark, in the investigation, was finally found guilty.

But in that time they let the investigation go and Frank Wark run free, ready and willing to terrorise different women in different states.

And while Andrea escaped with her life in her hands, the trauma, she told 60 Minutes, lingers almost a decade on.

*Not her real name.

If you or a loved one is the victim of a sexual assault, help and support is available via 1800 RESPECT.