WARNING: Graphic content.
Australia’s worst serial killer, Ivan Milat, died yesterday at 74 years old while being treated at Long Bay Jail’s hospital.
Milat is perhaps best known for committing the backpacker murders that took place between 1989 and 1993 in the Belanglo State Forest. In 1996, Milat was arrested and found guilty of the murders, however, he maintained his innocence over the entire course of his life sentence – even as he passed away last week.
Ivan Milat’s crimes inspired the 2005 horror film Wolf Creek, and the stories of his devious character are terrifying to say the least. But the full scope of Milat’s crimes play out like real life horror story.
In 1992, two runners discovered a corpse in Belanglo State Forest. The next day, police found a second body 30 metres from the first – they were the bodies of 21 and 22-year-old British backpackers Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters. Clarke had been stabbed 14 times and Walters had been shot 10 times in the head. According to Casefile, police believe she had been used as “target practice.”
One year later, in 1993, a man discovered human bones while searching for firewood in Belanglo. Police returned to the scene and found two bodies, later identified as Victorian couple Deborah Everist and James Gibson. Gibson’s spine had been cut with a knife to cause paralysis, while Everist had been brutally beaten and stabbed in the back.
The same year, police were sweeping the forest and found a skeleton, identified as 21-year-old German tourist Simone Schmidl. Nearby, the bodies of German couple Gabor Neugebauer and Anja Habschied were found. In 1994, The Dispatch reported that Habschied had been decapitated but her skull was never found. According to the BBC, there was evidence that some of the victims didn’t die instantly from their injuries.
Imagining the physical and emotional suffering these victims went through is enough to give you full body chills.
When the hunt for Milat began, the public was warned to avoid hitchhiking and a reward to find the Belanglo serial killer was set at $500,000. Court documents show that all the murders had elements in common: the victims were all young, they were all found covered in branches and leaf litter, and each had been “attacked savagely, with a great deal more force than was necessary to cause death, and apparently for some form of psychological gratification.”
The only victim to survive an encounter with Milat was UK backpacker, Paul Onions who was offered a lift to Mildura from Liverpool station by a man named ‘Bill.’ When ‘Bill’ pulled out a revolver and some ropes claiming it was a robbery, Onions managed to flee his shots, flag a car down and escape safely.
Onions assisted with the investigation and on May 5, 1994 positively identified Milat as the man who picked him up and attempted to murder him. In 1996, Milat was found guilty of the murders and given a life sentence without possibility of parole.
During his time in prison, Milat cut off his little finger with a plastic knife in an attempt to force an appeal and had previously self-harmed by swallowing razor blades and staples. According to News.com.au, he also went on a 9-day hunger strike in 2011 after he was refused a PlayStation.
Earlier this year, Milat was diagnosed with esophageal cancer before dying on 27 October 2019 at Long Bay Jail’s hospital wing.
Following his death, Boris Milat told 60 Minutes his brother was “nothing but an evil killer” “right to the last bone.” Perhaps we’ll never know the full scope of Ivan Milat’s crimes with many unsolved murders bearing similarities to the serial killer’s previous offences, but at least we can all rest easy knowing he’s no longer able to inflict any kind of pain or suffering.