Milat ruled out of highway killer case
The abduction and murders of two NSW teenagers 40 years ago - once believed to have been the victims of backpacker killer Ivan Milat - have now been linked to someone else, a businessman living on the Gold Coast.
Detectives have made a major breakthrough in the hunt for the serial killer with a unique type of vehicle linked to the disappearances of the two girls as well as other incidents along the Pacific Hwy near Newcastle.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal a former Hunter Valley man, now aged 58, is under investigation into the disappearances of Robyn Hickie, 18, and Amanda Robinson, 14, in 1979 and was eventually granted bail in Queensland, despite police protests, after being charged with rape and other sex offences.
Milat was previously named as the major suspect in the cases of both Robyn and Amanda, as well as others in the Hunter Valley. He gave evidence during a 2002 inquest into the disappearances, denying any involvement.
During a bail hearing in Southport Magistrates court late last month, it was revealed NSW police have been investigating the local businessman since June as part of a cold case murder stemming from a 1979.
"We are not commenting on suspects or persons of interest with our reinvestigation into the girls' disappearance,'' Det Sgt Kristi Faber said.
"We are focused on a distinctive mid-1970s Torana we believe may be involved in these cases, as well as possibly other sex attacks along the Pacific Hwy around that time.
"It's an unusual looking car and we would like to hear from anyone who may know who owned one like this back around that time or may have even purchased one similar.
"We also have information which leads us to believe it's possible it may have travelled between the Hunter and Queensland in 1979.''
Sgt Faber is the officer in charge of Strike Force Arapaima, which was set up in June to investigate the cold case disappearances of Robyn and Amanda, and also fellow teenager Gordana Kotevski, who disappeared in 1994, 15 years after the two other teens.
All three girls went missing from the Swansea and Belmont areas.
"The car we are hoping to get more information on is in relation to the cases of Robyn Hickie and Amanda Robinson only,'' Sgt Faber said.
"They both occurred on or near bus stops two weeks apart, just 10km away from each other.''
Gordana appeared to have been abducted in very similar circumstances, and from the same area, as Robyn and Amanda.
"We are also actively investigating the disappearance of Gordana Kotevski,'' Sgt Faber said.
The families of all three girls are being kept informed of the progress being made by the strike force.
Over the past four months, a dedicated team of four detectives plus an intelligence analyst have been working full time on the disappearance of all three teenagers.
"We have interviewed hundreds of witnesses, many who were originally spoken to, but also new witnesses that have come forward or been located,'' Sgt Faber said.