Serial killer Ivan Milat refused to confess to murder right until his dying day, but now the contents of his final letter have revealed how he delivered one final insult to Australians from his deathbed too.
The killer died in a cell in Long Bay prison on Sunday after being sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences for the murder of seven backpackers in NSW’s Belanglo state forest in the first half of the 1990s. He was diagnosed with terminal oesophagus and stomach cancer in May.
Now his brother Bill and sister-in-law Carol have revealed the contents of his final one-page letter on 10 News First, after he demanded it remain sealed until he died. In it, he requested his belongings and legal documents be handed over to his family – but asked for none of them to pay for the funeral, as he believed that responsibility fell into the lap of Corrective Services NSW.
“Please don’t pay for my funeral services or contribute in any way,” the 74-year-old wrote in the letter. “Corrective Services NSW to fund it all – a pauper’s burial or whatever is suitable.”
In a final, selfish request from serial killer Ivan Milat, he wrote in a letter to his family that taxpayers should pay for his funeral. @AngelaBishop: "It wasn't taxpayers who put him in prison, he murdered 7 people." #Studio10 pic.twitter.com/zbP7D8ZWkR
— Studio 10 (@Studio10au) October 28, 2019
The camera zoomed in on Milat’s final words in the note, as he signed off with his name and a small illustration of a figure with a halo above the word “innocent”. Speaking about the letter on the program, Bill said: “It’s the taxpayer that put him in there (prison) so the taxpayer has to pay. Corrective Services had him all this time so Corrective Services can foot the bill.”
Bill confirmed the family planned to have a private cremation and no gravestone. “If we have a funeral, every kook in the country will be there,” he told the program. “If he was buried, they’ll desecrate the grave and make a mess of it. So we’re having none of that.” Corrective Services NSW has since confirmed it will not be paying for the funeral.
Elsewhere, footage of police grilling Milat in his final days in a last ditch attempt to get him to confess to the murders was aired on Channel 9’s A Current Affair on Monday night. Officers played him a series of interviews with the families of the victims to try and get through to him, but he refused to show any emotion throughout.
“She was at the beginning of her life, what might have been?” Ian, the father of murder victim Caroline Clarke, said in his interview. “Would she have married? Would she have had children? What would she have become? Where would she have lived? All of those things that any parent wishes for, for their children.”
— A Current Affair (@ACurrentAffair9) October 28, 2019
Milat simply responded: “What do you want me to watch this for? They only say what you expect them to say.” Shockingly, he added: “I don’t feel sorry for them. Why should I feel sorry for them?”
Speaking on the program of the whole final investigation, A Current Affair Crime Editor Simon Bouda said Milat started to warm to two female detectives, speaking to them more than men. Audio footage reveals how he continued to deny any part in the murders until the end however.
“There’s no evidence, no police evidence or whatever, and I argue that and the judiciary, they just cover it up, saying ‘nah, nah, nah, the Crown didn’t have to prove that’,” he is heard saying, before adding: “In the end I just got so, so angry, or I don’t know what, I’m by myself, and I just chopped off my finger.”
At another point, he can be heard insisting: “You could bore me eyes out with a blowtorch and I still could not tell you one word about any of them missing people in that Newcastle area.” He later adds: “Whether you believe me or not, that’s up to you. I don’t count, immaterial to me. But I know in my heart, in front of God or wherever, I’m quite, quite happy when I say this.”
Milat’s seven known victims were all picked up hitchhiking and were later found covered in leaf litter in the State Forest in 1992 and 1993. The victims included Deborah Everist, 19, and James Gibson, 19; Simone Schmidl, 21; Anja Habschied, 20, and Gabor Neugebauer, 21; and Joanne Walters, 22, and Caroline Clarke, 21.
A jury found Milat guilty on July 27, 1996, for the murders of all seven victims, without the possibility of parole. He was also convicted of the attempted murder, false imprisonment and robbery of Paul Onions.
However Milat has also been linked to a number of other deaths, including 18-year-old Peter Letcher, who was found dead in Jenolan State Forest, NSW, in January 1988. The teenager was discovered with five gun shots to his head after he was reported missing from the city of Bathurst in 1987, following a trip to Sydney to visit his former girlfriend.
Milat has also been linked with the murders of 20-year-old Keren Rowlan, who was found dead in Canberra in 1971 and hitchhiker Dianne Pennacchio, 29, whose body was discovered in the Tallaganda State Forest in NSW 1991.