ON a fine September day in 1992, two runners were working their way through New South Wales’s Belanglo State Forest and made a horrific discovery: a decaying body. This body would only be the first of seven discovered as part of the string of killings now known as the “Backpacker murders”, committed by one Ivan Milat.
The runners reported their discovery to local police, who found a second corpse less than 100 feet from the first upon their investigation. It was quickly assumed that the bodies found were one of two pairs of tourists who had gone missing in late 1991 and early 1992: either Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters, or Gabor Neugebauer and Anja Habschied. Both pairs had disappeared from Kings Cross in Sydney.
Soon, the police had successfully identified the corpses as Caroline Clarke and Joanne Walters. Clarke had been shot 10 times in the head–seemingly as a bizarre, disturbing form of target practice. Walters, instead, had been stabbed 14 times before her death. The police, hopeful that the discovery of these two corpses would lead to the discovery of other missing persons, continued their investigation deeper into the State Forest, spending five days searching the brush and wilderness, but with no success.
With no new information to go on, the investigation soon came to a halt–but it would be revived over a year later, when another man discovered human bones in a remote area of the state park. Two more bodies were found: Deborah Everist and James Gibson, who had been missing for four years. Gibson had been stabbed eight times. Everist...
By CATHERINE PHELAN
To be continued