Two decades on and he's still not been identified.


The body was brought to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Glebe, New South Wales.

A man. European-looking. Dark hair. Somewhere between 24 and 45 years old and 5’ 4” tall.

No one knew who he was.

So he was labeled Unknown Human Remains E48293.

But soon, forensic investigators and police had given him a name.

A nickname, at least.

Rack Man.

Because when he’d been found, he’d been tied to a rack. A rack in the shape of a cross…at the bottom of Australia’s vast Hawkesbury River.

Fishermen had made the discovery early in the morning of 11 August 1994.

Hawkesbury River (Photo: Alamy)

The crew of the Lady Marion fishing trawler had cast their nets deep for squid. But what they dragged up from the dark waters wasn’t what they were looking for.

The net was caught by a rope tied to a steel plate.

‘As I pulled it in, I saw there were plastic bags tied to it,’ the boat’s captain, Mark Peterson, described later. ‘And then I saw a bone stuck out of one of the bags.’

He called the police. And soon, the human remains, a body wrapped in plastic bags, and the cross-shaped rack they were tied to had been hauled out of the water.

It was a steel frame. Two solid metal bars had been welded onto a 1.82-metre length of metal to form the shape of a Cross.

Rack Man had been bound to it with rope, secured into position by wires fastened tightly around his neck and torso.

There was no way of knowing if he’d been alive or dead when he’d been tied to his cross. No way of knowing if he’d been alive or dead when he’d been dropped into the Hawkesbury River.

Water damage to his remains was so severe, there was no way of knowing much at all.

Scientists reckoned he’d been at the bottom of the river for 6-12 months and no longer. And in that time, the water had eroded Rack Man’s fingerprints and devastated any chance of getting DNA from him.

He was unidentifiable.

Not even his clothes could help.

Everything he’d been wearing, right down to his blue and white striped underpants, had been mass-produced and available in shops across the whole of Australia.

His pockets were empty, apart from a packet of cigarettes and a standard-issue lighter.

Desperate for a lead, police investigators began the facial reconstruction of Rack Man’s skull.

When completed, the image of what Rack Man would have looked like when alive was sent to newspapers and TV stations around the country.

But no one came forward to identify Rack Man.

Not a mother, father, brother, sister, lover, friend or colleague.

Even when a $100,000 reward was issued.

But someone out there had killed Rack Man. Someone had tied him to a specially-made crucifix and dropped him into the river.

And that led to questions.

Like who’d made the cross frame, or the rack? The welding job had been a good one, and the frame fitted Rack Man’s dimensions perfectly.

It was heavy, too. Which seemed to indicate more than one perpetrator. Perhaps even a gang.

And whoever was in that gang hadn’t wanted Rack Man to be discovered. Why?

Could this have been a gangland killing?

On New Year’s Eve, just eight months before Rack Man was found, a man called Joe Biviano had disappeared without trace in Sydney on the his way to a party.

Joe fitted the bill.

Right age, right height. And he was rumoured to have been involved in drug dealing.

Everything seemed to match. Except his teeth.

They weren’t in the same formation as Rack Man’s.

Could Joe have had them altered? Perhaps in a deliberate attempt to conceal his identity?

And there was another problem with the gangland theory.

The cross.

Why would a gang go to such lengths to truss Rack Man up in the shape of Jesus on the cross? Was a religious group behind the killing? A cult or sect?

And why the Hawkesbury River? Whoever had dropped Rack Man into the water had hired a boat to do so…but why not choose one of the oceans surrounding Australia instead?

There’d have been a much smaller risk of Rack Man being found.

The river seemed significant.

And it raised another possibility.

A monster is said to live in the Hawkesbury River.

Every now and again, slide marks will appear on the banks of the river.

Or a boat will be discovered. Crushed. Abandoned. And its crew disappeared.

For centuries, the Darug people who have fished in the river and farmed the shore, have told stories of the monster. They’ve drawn it, too. In their art and paintings.

A snake-like head, a long, muscular body covered in scales…

A Darug man performing a traditional dance (Photo: Getty Images)

Could Rack Man have been a sacrifice to the monster? And if so, who made that sacrifice, and why?

It’s been 22 years now since Rack Man was found.

To this day, he has no real name, no real identity.

His body is still kept in a Sydney morgue. Waiting for a breakthrough, waiting for justice.

And known simply as Unknown Human Remains E48293.


Where is the monster?

The ferry crossing at Wisemans Ferry (Photo: Alamy)

The most recent sighting of the Hawkesbury Monster was in 2010, when a fisherman saw it from Wisemen’s Ferry, a town to the north of Sydney. He described a ‘serpentine head and about two meters of long neck rise above the water before submerging.’ Since 1965, cryptozoological investigators Rex and Heather Gilroy have been compiling reported sightings and staking out various points on the river in the hope of getting photographic evidence.