In August 2011, a topic of heated debate between my girlfriends and I the other day, raised that ever elusive question. How does one evolve into a seriel killer? Are we born with these inherent tendencies or are they developed later in life, and it takes a moment, a visual or an event to awaken that long dormant desire buried deep in our subconscious.
And so came about the mention of the book ”Sins of the Brother – the definitive story of Ivan Milat and the backpacker murders” by Mark Whittaker & Les Kennedy, which I’m now inexplicable and totally engrossed in and can’t wait to get to the part where Ivan gives insight into how and why, if that even occurs.
The book tells the true life tale of Australian Ivan Milat, who murdered seven backpackers between 1989 and 1992. Ivan, one of fourteen children, born to Margaret and Steve Milat. Fourteen children, in today’s day and age, that number seems almost ludicrous. Margaret’s entire brood, save for a daughter who died in a car accident, have had run in’s with the law. Some repeat offenders, with varying degrees of unspeakable crimes.
And so we come back to the question: Are we born with the urge to kill or eased into this mind set by the guidance (whether conscious or sub conscious) by our parents, our peers, our upbringing, yet don’t we choose our own destiny regardless of the influence of others. From what I’ve read so far, I’m inclined to believe it was the very values instilled by Ivan’s parents that lead him down that delusion and destructive path.
From the very onset of this book, you’re undeniably captivated. Wanting to absorb all you can about his life, I suspect this is possibly spurred on by the very fact that I actually live in the same country and state that Ivan did where these murders took place, and in some bazaar way, it’s kind of thrilling, that such deplorable events could occur in a country where I consider the type and frequency of crime to be on a fairly small scale. I base this on the fact that I come from South Africa where it wouldn’t be an ordinary day if some horrific unspeakable event didn’t take place on the very street you walk everyday.
Australia is, in a sense, a small epitome of a near to perfect life. And you tend to forget that lurking under the surface are demons, all around us, hidden from the average Joe / Jane until you read about it days later and suddenly you snap out of your little bubble and realise that crime occurs even in the best of places.
So the story begins with a prologue, taking us to the day that Ivan and his brother are arrested yet again, this time for the seven murders. You read about how arrogant he is, believing he’ll get off again as he always has despite mounting evidence. And the lengths a mother will go to, to protect her children. I guess a parent’s love really is unconditional and you’d do anything to protect those you love. Understandably so.
Fast track forward – we’re taken to the start of what will hopefully be an exciting 500 pages. We learn how Ivan’s parents met; Margaret was fourteen, Steve thirty two and she literally ran into him with her bicycle and so the courting instantly began. It’s almost a really sweet love story. Boy meets girl, boy smiles at girl, they fall madly and instantly in love. Not long after, Margaret dropped out of school and shortly after turning sixteen, they were married. He was thirty four. Much to the disapproval of the town folks, yet the union blessed and encouraged by Margaret’s parents. Personally … and I stress, this is my personal opinion, encouragement from a parent condoning that pattern of behaviour to drop out of school, run off and marry a man at the tender young age of sixteen, doesn’t instill concrete family values to me.
And so I can almost draw the conclusion of understanding how Margaret and Steve producing over a dozen