Notorious Australian 'Backpacker Murderer' Ivan Milat dies in Sydney

Ivan Milat laughs as he leaves the Supreme Court after representing himself in his appeal, November 1997.
Ivan Milat laughs as he leaves the Supreme Court after representing himself in his appeal, November 1997. Photo credit: Getty

Notorious Australian serial killer Ivan Milat, known as 'The Backpacker Murderer', has died of cancer aged 74.

Between 1989 and 1993 Milat brutally murdered seven young hitchhikers, aged 19 to 22, who were travelling along a remote highway in New South Wales. 

The 74-year-old died roughly five months after being diagnosed with advanced oesophageal cancer. He was subsequently transferred from Goulburn's supermax prison, where he had been living in solitary confinement, to a secure treatment unit in Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital. 

The New South Wales Department of Corrective Services confirmed Milat died in New South Wales at 4:07am on Sunday (local time) in Long Bay Hospital, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Milat's victims included British backpackers Caroline Clarke, 21, and Joanne Walters, 22, German backpacker Simone Schmidt, 21, Melbourne couple Deborah Everist, 19, and James Gibson, 19, and German couple Gabor Neugebauer, 21, and Anja Habschied, 20.

The seven hitchhikers murdered by Milat between 1989 and 1993.
The seven hitchhikers murdered by Milat between 1989 and 1993. Photo credit: Reuters

The former roadworker was arrested in 1994 after an extensive police investigation. The bodies of Milat's victims were discovered partially buried in shallow graves in the Belanglo State Forest.

The horrific killings inspired the hit 2005 Australian horror film Wolf Creek, as did fellow real-life murderer Bradley John Murdoch.

Milat was convicted in 1996 and sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences as well as 18 years without parole.

He never confessed to the murders and police maintain Milat may have been involved in more attacks or killings than the seven he was convicted for.

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