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Ivan Milat is best known as the Backpack Killer, convicted of seven murders of backpackers in Australia.
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Ivan Milat was born December 27, 1944 in Guildford, Australia. Ivan was born to a large immigrant Yugoslav family in rural Australia. From the age of 17, Ivan was in trouble with the police, but nothing like the seven murders he would be convicted for in 1996. Milat became known as the Backpack Killer after being found guilty of seven gruesome murders, though suspected of more.
Ivan Robert Marko Milat was born in Australia on December 27, 1944, one of 14 children in an extended Yugoslavian immigrant family. Family life was rural and insular, and the Milats kept to themselves, making reliable information about Ivan Milat's upbringing difficult to obtain. Interviews with his brother, Boris, after Milat's trial, indicate that he exhibited psychopathic tendencies early on, though other family members dispute this. Milat was described as a good-looking, muscular boy, who had a fascination for hunting and guns, and took great care of his appearance. His parents were hard working and strict. With 14 children to manage, discipline was difficult, and Milat and his brothers had a reputation for lawlessness in their neighborhood. The family endured numerous police visits to their farm as the children grew older.
From the age of 17 Milat was constantly in trouble with both the police and the courts, on charges as varied as housebreaking, car thefts and armed robberies.
In 1971, Milat was put on trial for the alleged rape of two female hitchhikers, who testified that he had been armed with a knife during the attacks, but he was acquitted on the rape charges when the prosecution failed to make a convincing case against him.
There has been much speculation about the true number of Milat's victims, given that he has always maintained his innocence, but the luckiest of them was certainly British backpacker Paul Onions, who was hitchhiking south from Sydney, in search of work, and was picked up by Milat on January 25, 1990.
Milat was initially very friendly, introducing himself as "Bill," but Onions found Milat's personal questions about his plans unnerving, and he became concerned for his safety when Milat began ranting, and making racist and xenophobic remarks. When Milat pulled his car to the side of the road, Onions tried to get out, but Milat pulled out a revolver and told him to put on his seatbelt. Onions managed to bolt for safety, leaving his backpack, which contained all his possessions and passport. Despite Milat's threat that he would shoot him, he managed to flag down a passing car, which took him to the nearest police station so that he could report the incident. He returned to Sydney to replace the missing passport, and eventually returned to the UK, not yet aware of his narrow escape.
The first of Milat's less fortunate victims to be discovered were British backpackers, Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters. They were found in an area of the Belangalo State Forest known as Executioners Drop, by orienteering enthusiasts who were out on their weekly run, on September 19, 1992. This location was not far from the area where the attack on Paul Onions had occurred in 1990.
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Many of the most horrifying acts of violence are committed by serial killers. Always looking for next victim, these murderers kill again and again, never fully satisfied by their bloody deeds. Their twisted motivations—and even more twisted techniques—land the people in this group among the most frightening criminals in history.
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