The development of the Australia Backpacker Murderer began when a group of hikers discovered a decaying corpse in the Belanglo State Forest in New South Wales on September 20, 1992. When authorities came to investigate the scene the next day, they discovered a second body 100 feet away from the original. Since 1989 seven hikers from Australia, Germany, and England, had gone missing. Police confirmed that the two bodies found belonged to Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters, both British backpackers that had gone missing in April 1992. After a search of the area, no other bodies were found, and the investigation stalled.
Thirteen months later in October of 1993 a man discovered a human skull and a thigh bone in a remote part of the forest. When police responded, they found the remains of another body, and it was later discovered that they were the remains of Australian couple Deborah Everist and James Gibson who had gone missing in 1989. Some of their belongings had been found 100 kilometers away in the Northern suburbs of Sydney.
A month after the that discovery, a police sergeant discovered another human skull in a clearing of the forest. The remains were those of Simone Schmidl, a German hitchhiker who had gone missing in January 1991. The belongings of another missing hiker were found at the scene, and it led to the discovery of two more bodies. A few days later, the bodies of a German couple, Anja Habschied and Gabor Neugebauer, were found a few kilometers away. Their murders seemed particularly gruesome compared to the previous in the area. All the victims were shot and/or stabbed multiple times in the face or torso. However, Habschied was decapitated while Neugebauer was shot multiple times in the face.
As the investigation shortened their list of suspects from 230 to 32, a man from Britain named Paul Onions was called into the police department. He claimed to have been attacked by a man while hitchhiking in New South Wales in 1990. The woman who helped Onions escape the attack also reported the same incident. A girlfriend of a man who worked with someone named Ivan Milat called the police station to say she believed Milat should be questioned. It was then confirmed that Milat had not been at work the day of the attack on Onions. The police then discovered that Milat sold his car days after the first bodies were found. When they began to connect him to the murders, they called Onions to come to Australia and try to identify Milat. He recognized Milat as his attacker, and in May 1994, Ivan Milat was arrested for the murders of the seven backpackers. In July 1996, he was found guilty and given 7 life sentences for his murders with no chance of parole in addition to 18 years for his crimes against Paul Onions.
Back to Crime Library