Family hopes memory of nine year old will send message

Fifteen years have not faded the loving memory of Laurel Steinhardt's great neice, Keyra Steinhardt. Hervey Bay family members will release 15 balloons to mark the anniversary of Keyra's death at the hands of serial killer Leonard John Fraser.
Fifteen years have not faded the loving memory of Laurel Steinhardt's great neice, Keyra Steinhardt. Hervey Bay family members will release 15 balloons to mark the anniversary of Keyra's death at the hands of serial killer Leonard John Fraser. Valerie Horton

IT'S BEEN 15 years since nine-year-old Keyra Steinhardt fell victim to one of Queensland's most notorious serial killers.

But her family hopes that an anniversary memorial dedicated to their "bright and happy" child will send a message to the community to look out for each other.

Keyra's great aunt, Laurel Casten, said the anniversary event taking place in Hervey Bay on Tuesday was about supporting the family in Rockhampton as well as raising awareness.

"What happened to Keyra occurred in daylight and was seen by members of the public who thought it was just a scuffle between a father and daughter," she said.

"The message is if you see something, report it, no matter how small it is because it may make a difference to someone's life.

"Keyra was a beautiful child who just didn't get the chance to grow up."

Mrs Casten said that Keyra's mother, Treasa Steinhardt initially took a long time to come to terms with the tragic event before some kind words from Denise Morcombe finally saw her turn a corner.

"It took Treasa a long time to recover from Keyra's death, up until Denise Morcombe spoke to her.

"She singled Treasa out while they were in Rockhampton doing a school tour about three years ago and both Denise and Bruce met and spoke with her."

Just like the Morcombes, Keyra's family hopes that keeping her memory alive will remind the public to look out for one another so that tragedies such as this don't happen again.

"Keyra was a lovely girl with a beautiful personality who always did exactly what she wanted," she said.

"Her mother always told her when she was really tiny that she was going to grow up to be very famous.

"But none of us realised that was how it was going to turn out.

"But this anniversary is about remembering Keyra by releasing her favourite coloured balloons as well as supporting the family that has been left behind, particularly Keyra's mum and younger brother."

Mrs Casten said Keyra, who would have celebrated her 24th birthday on April 12, had a close connection to Hervey Bay, where she would often come to visit family.

"Keyra's great grandmother lived here for more than 30 years so she would spend a lot of time in travelling to Hervey Bay with her mother."

On Tuesday, more than 30 family members from Hervey Bay including aunts, uncles, cousins and close family friends will attend a memorial in the local region as an alternative to the memorial service taking place in Rockhampton.

"It will give those of us who can't make it to Rockhampton a chance to get together and remember."

The event will take place at Dayman Point with 15 purple balloons to be released into the sky to symbolise the 15 years since Keyra's murder in Rockhampton at the hands of Queensland serial killer Leonard John Fraser.

Serial killer kept trophies of his victims

LEONARD John Fraser was jailed for the abduction and murder of nine-year-old Rockhampton girl Keyra Steinhardt in 1999 after snatching her as she walked home from school in broad daylight.

He was subsequently charged with four murders, leading him to be recognised as Queensland's first convicted serial killer.

Police also found trophies of his victims in his flat including ponytails from three different women, which could not be traced to any of his known victims.

One alleged victim, however, Natasha Ryan, was eventually found to be alive and living secretly with her boyfriend after being missing for five years. While serving four indefinite life sentences, Fraser died in his sleep in 2007.

Topics:  hervey bay keyra steinhardt memorial rockhampton serial killer

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