Frankston serial killer victim Natalie Russell’s parents hope to stay in Frankston home


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Brian and Carmel Russell holding a photo of Natalie inside their Frankston home, which is for sale. Picture: Wayne Taylor

The parents of murdered high school student Natalie Russell are seeking “an investor with a big heart” to buy their longtime Frankston home so they can keep living there.

Brian and Carmel Russell bought 18 Woodlands Grove shortly after their 17-year-old daughter became serial killer Paul Denyer’s third victim while walking home from John Paul College in July 1993.

The Russells sold the house to their son-in-law when they were struggling financially about a decade ago, and stayed on as tenants paying subsidised rent, Ash Marton Realty director Ash Marton said.

But now their son-in-law is battling cancer, forcing him to list the property with a $750,000 asking price that would clear his debt on the property.

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The Russell’s longtime home at 18 Woodlands Grove, Frankston.

Natalie Russell was 17 when she was murdered by serial killer Paul Denyer.

Mr Marton said the selling campaign would aim to find an investor who would allow the Russells to continue renting the three-bedroom house that had been a sanctuary for them following Natalie’s death.

Prior to listing the home, the agent called on the community to help the family prepare it for sale.

More than 50 locals and businesses responded, volunteering “their time, money and resources” to spruce up the house and its gardens, and also stage and market the property pro bono.

“We’ve had blinds donated by a business in Seaford, Bunnings has donated paint and we’ve painted the home, (others donated) mulch, local cafes fed people,” Mr Marton said.

“Obviously we can’t control everything, but a lot of effort has gone into improving its value so there’s the best chance of securing an investor.”

Local businesses and individuals volunteered to spruce up the house before it was listed for sale.

The Russells have lived at the property for almost 26 years.

The main house features three bedrooms, with a fourth in a self-contained bungalow on the site.

A GoFundMe appeal to “help keep Brian and Carmel Russell in Frankston” has also raised more than $37,000, with the relatives who set it up pledging to “transfer every single cent” into the couple’s bank account.

Mrs Russell has previously told Frankston Standard Leader she and her husband couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the community that had rallied around them for the past 26 years.

Their home also features a lasting memento of their daughter — a towering Norfolk pine the couple planted in 1994 and hope to continue to watch grow.

The Russells with some of the volunteers who helped spruce up their home, including selling agent Ash Marton (front centre).

The Russells bought the house shortly after their daughter’s death.

Mr Marton said the property was in one of Frankston’s most desirable cul-de-sacs, backing on to Woodlands Reserve and close to schools, shops, public transport, the Botanical Gardens and the beach.

The 641sq m block also features a self-contained bungalow that’s home to another long-term tenant, meaning an investor could secure a double-income stream.

Marketing for the property states that it offers investors “strong capital growth and good returns, … with the added bonus of knowing you’ve made a world of difference to a deserving family”.

The couple planted this Norfolk pine in the backyard in memory of Natalie.

The backyard features a bungalow, which offers a secondary source of income, and an alfresco deck.

Denyer’s seven-week killing spree also claimed the lives of TAFE student Elizabeth Stevens and young mum Debbie Fream.

The killer was initially sentenced to life in jail without parole. But this was later reduced to a 30-year minimum term, making him eligible for release in 2023.

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