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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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Both girls had been missing since May of that year, when they had teamed up to look for work south of Sydney. Joanne Walters had been stabbed repeatedly; including one wound to her spine that, it was believed, might have paralyzed her while the killer continued his vicious attack. The zip of her jeans had been undone, but the top button was still fastened, as if she had been partially stripped and sexually assaulted,
then buttoned up hastily after the attack. Her remains were too badly decomposed to actually establish whether a sexual attack had occurred. Caroline Clarke, as well as being stabbed repeatedly, had been shot in the head ten times. She also had a similar spinal wound to Walters. Four bullets that remained inside her skull were preserved for forensic analysis, and detectives were confident that they would be able to use these to track the weapon responsible.
A primitive brick fireplace had been constructed near the bodies, and cigarette butts and spent .22-caliber cartridge cases were also recovered from the scene. An extensive search of the surrounding area produced no more bodies at that time, and the possibility that a serial killer was on the loose, although speculated in the press, was denied by the police authorities./p> Despite the abundance of forensic evidence, police made little progress over the following weeks, and sought the assistance of a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Rod Milton. He concluded that the killer was in his mid thirties, with a history of aggression, was familiar with the surrounding terrain and motivated by the pleasure of inflicting pain. Furthermore, he did not believe that a serial killer was responsible, although it was possible that the killer might have an assistant. Police progress continued to be slow, as all leads were painstakingly followed, including a thorough investigation of all suspicious disappearances over the previous decade.
The discovery of the second set of bodies, in October 1993, injected new life into a case that had become stale despite the best investigative efforts. The badly decomposed remains were those of Australian nationals James Gibson and Deborah Everist, who had gone missing in 1989. Despite the environmental damage wrought on the clothing, Gibson's zipper was intact; it was open, but with the top button fastened, in a similar manner to Joanne Walters. Post-mortem examinations again revealed paralyzing spinal knife wounds, inflicted in a similar manner to the earlier British victims.
Crime scene similarities included a small fireplace built near the bodies, making the police more certain that they were dealing with the same killer, and Superintendent Clive Small was placed in overall charge of the investigation, setting up a large task force to progress the investigations. A massive manual search of the extended Belangalo Forest area was initiated, and it took almost a month before the next victim was found, on November 1. German national Simone Schmidl, had been missing since January 1991, when she had been planning to hitchhike south from Sydney in search of work.
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