Monday, 20 December 2021

The real Wolf Creek murders - the one who got away


For some people this is more than something to watch *

If like me you do a lot of research into unexplained deaths that usually involve murderers and serial killers, there are 2 words that constantly come up - 

Hitchhiker and backpacker 

I would say those what are only second to sex worker when it comes to how often they come up. You're more likely to become a victim it seems if either of those three words or all of them can be applied to you. 

Too often hitchhiker's and backpackers are the one being targeted by evil men with murder and often rape on their mind. Of course there are a few women who feature in that mix - usually women who have committed unspeakable crimes with their male partners. 

On a few occasions these women have even been the instigators behind the violence as has been suggested in the case of Rose West. 

The movie and subsequent TV show Wolf Creek, is something we can choose to watch or not. But in the case of eight young people (and quite possibly many more) who were backpacking around Australia at different times, it became a terrifying reality that resulted in all but one of their horrific deaths at the hands of a cowardly psychopath called Ivan Milat. 

The cowardly serial killer

He would stab his victims in the back to paralyze them before raping and stabbing or shooting them brutally to death as they lay there helpless as babies. 

It's hard to think of a more cowardly way to kill people. But that's the one thing that unites all serial killers - cowardice. 

Seven young people are known to have died at his hands, most of them who were hitchhiking and backpacking in pairs because they thought it was safer. 

December 1989 - April 1992 

The lives that were stolen by a sadist

Seven backpackers who were also hitchhiking, went missing during these dates. Most were in pairs. Their bodies were all discovered at different times in Belanglo State Forest, which is south-west of Sydney. 

Best friends Deborah Everist and James Gibson (both Australian and 19), disappeared in December 1989. They had travelled from their home city of Melbourne and planned to attend a conservation festival. They never made it. 

Simone Schmidl (from Germany and aged 20), disappeared in January 1991. Apart from the one who got away who we'll find about later, Simone was the only one who was travelling alone. She was planning to meet up with her mum who was coming over from Germany. Her mum never saw her again. She was known to her friends as Simi. 

Childhood sweethearts Gabor Neugebauer, 21 and Anja Habschied 20 (both from Germany), disappeared in January 1992. Friends say that Gabor was strong and it would have taken a lot to subdue him but police believe terrified that his girlfriend would be hurt he had complied with his killer who had promised to let them go as serial killers often do to get people's compliance. 

Caroline Clarke, 21, Joanne Walters, 22 (both from the UK), disappeared in April 1992. They had met and become friends whilst they had been backpacking. The only consolation to their families was they were together when they died. 

All of these people with their whole life ahead of them, had two things in common - they had all stayed in Sydney backpacker's hostels and that had started the horrendous chain of events that would lead to their deaths In a forest far away from help. 

Escape from a killer 

The guy who got away

Someone as pathetic as this killer doesn't deserve to have his name remembered. So instead I would like to concentrate on the one who got away. A man whose testimony and ID of the killer ensured the beast was caged at last.

Paul Onions from the West Midlands in the UK should have been the 8th victim (at least that the police know of). Instead, he was the one who got away.

He was backpacking around Australia when he met a man he thought was a nice, ordinary bloke but that man was a serial killer. He accepted a lift and it almost cost him his life. 

The stranger started fidgeting about in the car and when he came out with a gun and then some rope, Mr Onions wasn't paralyzed by fear. He was jolted into action, undoing his seatbelt he leapt out of the car under gunfire. He would probably have been done for for one thing as a bullet could stop Usain Bolt -  a car just happened to be passing by and he jumped inside. 

Without the car being there and the woman inside wth her children helping him it's doubtful he would still have been alive. But Mr onions is still deserving of our respect and admiration for not losing his head and saving his own life by getting out of that car. 

Brave Mr Onions was probably not the only one who got away. Australian police also believe that the serial killer claimed more victims that they have still to find.

Paul Onions was in court to testify against the man who tried to kill him and was there when he was sentenced to life for the 7 other murders and for his own attempted murder. 

We will never know how many people died at the hands of the sneering killer because he died in hospital of cancer and didn't reveal anymore about the ones he killed. 

Did he have an accomplice?

There have been suggestions that Milat did not act alone and that he had an accomplice - possibly even a family member. Could ge be part of the first known serial killer family?

We'll never know as Milat is dead and surely if there's any justice at all, he will be rotting in hell. 

*NOTE - Wolf Creek is very, very loosley based on the murders and should not be treated as an reinactment. 

Friday, 10 December 2021

WHO TOOK OFFICE WORKER SHELLEY CRAIG? Read an extract from Vile City (Volume 1 Detective in a Coma)

#VileCity #detectiveinaComa

#crimethriller #tartannoir 

DI Duncan Waddell is on the brink of a nervous breakdown – he thinks his best pal DC Stevie Campbell, who’s been in a coma since he was attacked by a suspect, is talking to him.

When office worker Shelley ruses to her boyfriend’s aid after he is attacked, she is abducted. She wakes up in a strange room with no memory of how she got there.

On the case, Waddell finds himself in a desperate race against time to uncover the truth behind the abduction.

To do this, he and his team must delve into the seedy underbelly of Scotland’s swingers’ scene and a world where women are tricked into the sex business and traded like cattle.

Vile City is out now, published by Diamond Books in paperback and eBook. 

You can buy it by clicking here

~ Read an extract ~

Chapter 1
Stuart was hiding something. Shelley could tell. She was always the one who’d had to wake him because he could block out the shrill of the alarm clock. Nowadays, he was up before her, grabbing the mail whilst she slept. And he’d started making breakfast – nothing much, just tea and toast, more than he’d ever made her in their near three years together.

When she’d ask him if anything was wrong, he’d shrug his shoulders, give her a wee smile and say everything was fine. She knew he was lying because his face went even paler, making his freckles stand out as if they’d been drawn in by a kid with a coloured pencil. She never pushed it, maybe because deep down she was worried that he’d tell her he’d met someone else.

The No.76 bus was empty when they clambered on board – one of the benefits of working until eleven at night in a call centre, was that there was no need to scoot past a sea of legs and become a contortionist to get on and off a bus.

Their cold breath filled the air with ghosts as they walked towards Waterstones, Shelley pausing to peek at the new crime fiction releases showcased in the illuminated windows, whilst Stuart fidgeted with his watch. He was always footering about with something since he’d given up cigarettes and it drove her mad, but at least it didn’t fill his lungs with tar and make the house smell like an overflowing ashtray.

“I need to have a pee,” he announced, as they came to the dimly lit lane off Mitchell Street that reeked of eau de Glasgow: decomposing takeaway, urine and other bodily fluids.

She groaned. “Can’t you wait until we get home, Stuart?” She knew she’d pronounced his name “Stew-art” as she always did when she was annoyed with him. She couldn’t help it.

What made men think it was okay to urinate in public?

Stuart looked pained. “Sorry, I can’t. Too much coffee tonight.”

She let him walk on ahead of her and whilst he scooted down the alley, she stood outside the amusement arcade, pretending to look in so she wouldn’t be mistaken for a prostitute. It’d happened to her once when she’d got off the bus alone. Stuart hadn’t been working that night.

Five minutes later, she was so cold she couldn’t feel her nose and Stuart still wasn’t back.

She turned the corner to look for him, fully expecting to see him ambling back towards her with that jaunty walk that always made her smile. He wasn’t there.

Where was he?

Anger welled up in her chest. Had he started smoking again? He swore he wouldn’t.

There was one way to find out.

She headed down the alley. The sole light was provided from some nearby buildings, so visibility was poor.

She’d walked a few steps when she spotted a bundle of rags on the ground. Was someone sleeping there?

She moved closer, squinting into the dim light. Stuart was lying motionless on the ground. He must have tripped and knocked himself out as he hit the concrete.

She ran to him, calling out his name, the squeezing in her chest waning slightly when she knelt and heard him groan.

She pulled her mobile phone from her bag to call for an ambulance.

She didn’t make it to the third digit. A gloved hand clamped across her mouth and nose, cutting off her airways. The phone fell from her grasp, clattering onto the cobbles. Terror gripped her and she couldn’t breathe.

As she struggled, her assailant pressed his mouth to her ear. He was so close that it occurred to her that if anyone saw them, they would think he was her boyfriend whispering sweet nothings in her ear.

“Your man’s been given a strong sedative. He’ll wake up with a sore head and nothing more. If you scream, I’ll kick him several times in the head and he’ll never get up again. Do you understand?”

The voice was cold and emotionless She didn’t recognise it and there was an accent. Not from around here.

She nodded under his hand. Then did something he didn’t expect. Backheeled him in the groin.

There was a satisfying yelp as he released her.

She ran, arms pumping away like Usain Bolt, down towards the café at the end of the alley and safety.

She’d almost made it when he grabbed her arm and hauled her back. An electric shock shot from her elbow to her shoulder as she tried to pull herself free. He was too strong.

He dragged her towards him.

Before she could scream, he punched her in the face and she went down with a thud, jarring every bone in her body, momentarily stunning her.

As she fought to get up, he punched her in the back, and she fell again.

The last thing she saw was the pavement rushing towards her before she blacked out...

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Why the Vile City title isn't a slur on Glasgow

Since Vile City was published I've had a few people tell me that they love Glasgow and thought the title was having a go at the fair city. What's more the thought of someone picking a fight with Glasgow had

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I lived in the city for well over a decade and came to think of it as home. The people are the friendliest in Scotland and if the Scottish parliament had been located in the best place it would be Glasgow not Edinburgh.

Vile City, a former winner of the Scottish Association of Writers Pitlochry Quaich for a crime novel is so named for one reason and it's nothing to do with the city its based in.

The crimes described in the book namely the abduction of women, are truly vile.

The City in the title is important too as the next 3 books in the series which will be out soon -

Cannibal City - A killer is stalking Glasgow men, killing them and eating their livers.

Vigilante City -
When Douglas John MacDonald stands trial for the rape and murder of schoolgirl Kylie Donovan, everybody expects him to be convicted.
When he walks free there's a public outcry, but not everybody is content to just get angry.
When MacDonald is later found murdered with his pinkie removed just like his 15-year-old victim, the police think it's an isolated incident, but more murders follow and they begin to realise they're on the trail of a vigilante killer.

Romeo City - Dating is quite literally murder.
When Dennis McCombe is found with his throat slit from ear to ear in a bath in an empty house with the words Where's my beloved? written on the bath, the police realise this is no ordinary murder.
A serial killer is on the loose and she’s targeting the desperately dateless in Glasgow on blind dates - and she's just only got started. How else is she going to find her beloved?

Stay tuned and ask yourself - Is Inspector Duncan Waddell going crazy or us his best friend and colleague Stevie who's in a coma, really talking to him?

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