Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Could a Serial Killer’s Great-Nephew be Responsible for Unsolved Murder?

Composite sketch of Angel. Police handout image.

Police in Australia have not ruled out the possibility that an unidentified woman nicknamed “Angel,” whose remains were found in Belanglo State Forest two years ago, was the victim of Matthew Milat. Milat, 17, is the great-nephew of Ivan Milat, a convicted serial killer who killed seven young hikers in Belanglo forest in the 1990s. The younger Milat is himself a convicted killer — earlier this year he was sentenced to 43 years for murdering his friend David Auchterlonie with an axe in the same forest where his great-uncle killed his victims. In a confession, Milat told police he was “doing what my family does” when he and accomplice Cohen Klein brutally butchered their 17-year-old victim to death.

The fact that Angel’s body was found in the same forest where both Milat men killed their victims has led to speculation about her possible killer. Police say the injuries found on her body indicate that Angel was murdered. Ivan Milat was already in prison when Angel was killed, but police are considering the possibility that Matthew Milat may be responsible for her death. ”Could it have been Matthew? It’s something we can’t rule out,” said homicide Squad chief Mick Willing. According to information received by police, Angel, like three of Ivan Milat’s victims, may have been a German backpacker. Dr. Julian Parmegiani, a criminal profiler, has said that Angel’s killer may be a Milat copycat who followed the serial killer’s career. Matthew Milat may fit this profile, but Willing isn’t making any announcements: ”The possibility Matthew Milat is involved is something I really won’t speculate about. To be honest, I doubt it, but until we know who the young woman is we can’t rule out anything. After that we can look at suspects.”

Police sketch of the "Angelic" shirt found near Angel's remains. Handout.

Forensic experts say Angel died anywhere from six months to ten years before her body was found by cyclists in 2010. She is believed to have been between 13 and 25 when she died. Near her remains was a sock, a shoelace, an earring, and a decomposing t-shirt with the word “Angelic” written on it. Police released an image of the t-shirt, which was made by the brand “Chain Reaction for Girls.” This label, police say, is no longer sold in New South Wales but was available in the mid 2000s.

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