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Ivan Milat: Australia’s ‘backpacker killer’ dies of cancer in custody

SYDNEY, Australia: Ivan Milat, one of the most notorious serial killers in Australia’s history, died of cancer in custody on Sunday.

He had kidnapped and murdered at least seven people – three Germans, two Britons and two Australians – during his 1989-1992 killing spree.

The victims were aged between 19 to 22 and were picked up hitchhiking on a long stretch of road between Sydney and Melbourne.

Some backpackers were picked up in pairs, others alone. Each was taken into the Belanglo State Forest in New South Wales where they were shot and stabbed.

Forensic reports showed that his victims did not die immediately of the wounds.

Milat partially buried those murdered in a shallow grave, face down, with hands behind their backs.

For years, he escaped police detection for the killings until Paul Onions testified against him in court.

The serial killer had pulled over for Onions in 1990, seeing a rope and a gun in the car, the British backpacker fled as Milat pursued him on foot along the Hume Highway.

Luckily he managed to escape with the help of another motorist who took him to the nearest police station in Bowral.

Onions filed a report at the station. The police only handed him $10 to get back to the British High Commission in Sydney while his report lay uninvestigated in a drawer at Bowral police station for years.

Years later, he read media accounts about the remains of the bodies found in the Belanglo State Forest and called the Australian Federal Police, reminding them of his report.

They flew him back to Australia in 1996 to stand as a witness in court against Milat.

Milat was sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences without parole and also convicted of attempted murder, false imprisonment and stealing off Onions.

The killer remained in custody until he died of oesophageal and stomach cancer.

There was no deathbed confession or grief for multiple murders, instead, he said, “I don’t care, that’s it!”