These Were Ivan Milat's Victims: The Faces Of The Belanglo Backpacker Murders
WARNING: This story contains graphic details and may be distressing to some readers.
Seven young backpackers disappeared from Australian roads between 1989 and 1992.
Their decomposing bodies were found years after they were brutally tortured and murdered in NSW's Belanglo State Forest -- a place which would forever become haunted with the gruesome stories of the bodies buried inside it.
Ivan Milat was convicted of each of the murders. He was handed seven consecutive life sentences in 1996, and on Sunday October 27, he died after serving out just under 25 years of his sentence.
READ MORE: Backpacker Serial Killer Ivan Milat Is Dead
The stories of the Belanglo Backpacker Murders remain etched in the memory of almost all Australians.
The victims were chosen because they had plans to travel for some time, meaning their disappearance would not have been immediately worrying to their families and friends.
But most would be missing for several years, before their tortured -- and in one case, mutilated -- bodies were discovered.
Each of the victims suffered “savage” injuries , forensic evidence found. The court found some injuries were inflicted for “some form of psychological gratification.”
All but one had suffered injuries related to a sexual assault either before or after they had been murdered.
These were Milat's victims.
Deborah Everist and James Gibson
On a Saturday morning in December 1989, two teenagers from Victoria -- Deborah Everist and James Gibson, both aged 19 -- left Sydney, intending to hitchhike to Albury.
It would be the last time either was seen alive, and four years before their remains were found just 25 metres apart in the Belanglo State Forest.
According to court documents, Everist was located at the base of a tree while Gibson’s body was found beside a fallen log. Both had suffered multiple stab wounds.
Simone Schmidl was a 21-year-old German national on holiday in Australia.
She left Guildford in Sydney’s west on the morning of January 20 1991, intending to catch a bus to Liverpool before hitchhiking along the Hume Highway to Melbourne.
Her body was found two years later in the Belanglo State Forest with gruesome injuries. Court documents say an elastic band was found around her skull, and her mouth had been gagged.
She, too, died from multiple stab wounds.
Anja Habschied And Gabor Neugebauer
German couple Anja Habschied, 20, and Gabor Neugebauer, 21, left a Kings Cross backpackers hostel together on Boxing Day in 1991, planning a trip from Adelaide to Darwin.
Two years later, their bodies were found in the Belanglo forest. They had both suffered harrowing deaths.
Habschied had been decapitated, while Neugebauer had been gagged and shot five times in the head.
According to court documents, a restraining device was found near their bodies.
Habschied's head was never found.
Joanne Walters and Caroline Clarke
British backpackers Joanne Walters, 22, and Caroline Clarke, 21, left Kings Cross Station in April 1992, intending to travel by train to the Hume Highway before hitchhiking to Adelaide.
Their bodies were found five months later in the Belanglo State Forest.
Walters' body was found on a rock ledge, with pieces of a gag around her throat, neck, and chin. She had died from stab wounds to the neck and chest.
Clarke’s body was found a day later, 30 metres away from her friend. She was killed by ten bullets shot into her head.
Paul Onions, a British national on a working holiday in Australia, was 24 years old when he was abducted by Milat. Miraculously, he managed to escape, with his evidence proving crucial in the police investigation and subsequent trial.
Onions was hitchhiking from Sydney to Mildura on 25 January, 1990, when Milat offered him a lift. When Milat began to express "vehement and controversial opinions", Onions became nervous.
Milat pulled over about a kilometre north of the turnoff to the Belanglo State Forest and brandished a gun, telling Onions he intended to rob him. Noticing rope protruding from a bag underneath the driver's seat, Onions ran, flagging down a driver on the roadway to take him to safety.
He reported the incident to police, who treated it as an attempted robbery. However later, when the bodies were discovered, Onions contacted police and told them his story. His physical description of Milat was crucial in helping police track the serial killer down. Onions later returned to Australia to be a crucial witness at Milat's trial.