Australia is a vast, beautiful country, but it can also be an unforgiving place, especially if you visit the Outback. It’s a land of extremes, as well as extreme behaviors, including murder. It’s quite scary how easy it is for unsuspecting tourists to take the word of a complete stranger, only to meet a terrible fate.
Murders in the Outback became well known after road worker Ivan Milat killed seven young backpackers James Gibson, Deborah Everist, Simone Schmidl, Gabor Neugebauer, Anja Habschied, Caroline Clarke, and Joanne Walters) he picked up along isolated highways south of Sydney during the 1990’s. Milat is said to be one of Australia’s most notorious serial killers, though the actual number of people he killed is unknown.
The details of his crimes were so gruesome that they inspired the 2005 movie Wolf Creek. In the film, three young backpackers return from adventuring in Wolfe Creek National Park to discover that their car won’t start. The horror starts there when they accept help from a seemingly friendly local. After towing their car to an old mine site, he takes them captive. Needless to say, it’s a really difficult movie to watch.
As for Milat’s real victims? Some were stabbed, some were shot, another decapitated. The crime scenes were absolutely grisly.
Investigations began after a pair of runners found the decomposing corpses of Joanne Walters and Caroline Clark in Belangalo State Forest on September 19, 1992.
The only reason he was finally caught was because one of his would-be victims, Paul Onions, narrowly escaped being killed and positively identified him.
When he was arrested on May 22, 1994, police discovered “trophies” hidden in his house. Milat kept them to remind him of the murders. The items included clothing and camping gear such as sleeping bags, backpacks and T-shirts.
Milat was convicted in 1996 and received seven life sentences. He is now incarcerated in Australia’s toughest prison, the High Risk Management Correctional Centre, known as Supermax.
Although the mind-numbing terror involved in Milat’s murders is enough to inspire a filmmaker to make a horror film, he wasn’t the only one preying on folks in the Outback.
On July 14, 2001, Peter Falconio was shot and killed after he and his girlfriend stopped their vehicle near Alice Springs to help Bradley John Murdoch, who claimed he was having car trouble. His girlfriend, Joanne Lees, was then blindfolded and tied up, but thankfully was able to escape before finding out what Murdoch planned on doing with her.
Murdoch was convicted in 2006, after his DNA was traced to their van (featured in the slideshow above), as well as to a T-shirt Lees was wearing when she was attacked.
Falconio’s body was never found.