Best Known For
Ivan Milat is best known as the Backpack Killer, convicted of seven murders of backpackers in Australia.
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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. The trademark fireplace and discarded .22 shells were close by. There was no doubt she had fallen victim to the same killer,
showing the now-familiar spinal injury.
Three days later the exhaustive search yielded the final two victims, German nationals Anja Habschied and her boyfriend, Gabor Neugebauer, who had been missing since just after Christmas 1991. The boy's jeans had been unzipped, but with the button fastened, and he had been strangled, as well as shot numerous times, the recovered bullets a perfect match to previous crime scenes. The girl's body was missing its skull completely, which appeared to have been severed by a machete or sword.
Given the new bodies, Superintendent Small was forced to admit to the media that the police were looking for a serial killer, confirming what many already believed. The wide range of methods employed by the killer, including beating, strangulation, shooting, stabbing and decapitation, as well as the sexual assault of both male and female victims, made it difficult to narrow down the suspect list, and police were also hampered by the sheer volume of calls from concerned citizens, who swamped the task force with information.
Various independent reports had led the police to develop suspicions about the Milat family and, in particular Ivan Milat, but they had no firm evidence linking Milat to the crimes. The international media interest served its purpose, however, when Paul Onions, the only one of Milat's victims to escape, contacted Australian authorities in April1994, with information about his 1990 attack. His account was further corroborated by an independent call from the woman who had rescued Onions and driven him to the police station, and police recognized quickly that, if Onions could identify Milat as his attacker, then they could perhaps tie him to the other murders.
Onions was flown out to Australia, where he identified Milat from a video line-up, giving police the excuse they needed to seek a warrant for the search of various Milat family properties. A simultaneous raid was carried out in the early hours of May 22, 1994, which revealed a huge amount of evidence linking Milat to the crimes, including personal effects of many of the victims, including clothing, sleeping bags, and other camping equipment, as well as vast quantities of ammunition. They also found parts of disassembled weapons, including a .22 caliber rifle. A long curved cavalry sword, suitable for the beheading of Anja Habschied, was found in a locked cupboard at the home of Milat's mother.
Milat was arrested and taken into custody for questioning, where he was evasive and uncooperative. He was initially charged with the attack on Paul Onions, then subsequently with the seven murders, once ballistic evidence matched his weapon to the attacks.
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