The two backpackers who last year survived a violent ordeal on a remote South Australian beach have spoken out for the first time, recounting details of the attack to 60 Minutes.
German tourist Lena Rabente, and her Brazilian companion Beatriz (whose surname has been withheld), spoke with Tara Brown about the February 2016 incident. Their story of escape from 61-year-old attacker Roman Heinze is nothing short of harrowing.
After first contacting Heinze on Gumtree seeking a ride from Adelaide to Melbourne, the women were driven to Salt Creek in the Coorong region. While Rabente slept in the four-wheel drive, Heinze convinced Beatriz to follow him to look at kangaroos.
When they were further away from the campsite, Heinze bound and sexually assaulted Beatriz.
Heinze’s twisted plan was now in action. Trustingly, Beatriz followed him into sand dunes, unaware he was carrying a knife, hammer & ropes. pic.twitter.com/agSNM8xdo0— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) October 8, 2017
She was able to fight him off for long enough to trick him into returning to the camp, at which point she yelled for Rabente.
“I had just one chance,” Beatriz said. “‘Lena!’ And that’s it. And then he starting punching, and he threw me on the sand.”
Beatriz’s next move most likely saved her life. Incredibly, instead of fighting Roman she tricked & persuaded him to return to the campsite. pic.twitter.com/uNscor1GZD— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) October 8, 2017
Rabente confronted Heinze, at which point he attacked her with a hammer. She recalled thinking “oh my God, that’s it – he’s going to bury me in the sand.” Beatriz was able to run away and hide in nearby bushes.
Rabente ran from the scene, with Heinze pursuing her in the vehicle. She described being hit by the bull-bar multiple times, before she managed to jump on the roof of the car.
Lena ran for nearly a kilometre with Heinze constantly on her tail, intent on running her down. He then hits her with his 4WD four times. pic.twitter.com/wzQjbZw0yb— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) October 8, 2017
Beatriz recalled how she eventually flagged down some fisherman while naked and screaming, and that they only recognised the gravity of the situation once she was safely in their car.
After being holding on to the roof of Heinze’s car like a “rodeo”, Rabente convinced Heinze to throw away his weapons – two hammers and a knife. She reluctantly returned to the passenger’s seat as Heinze drove, and screamed to fishermen as they passed. Rabente was able to leave the 4WD and head towards them.
Petrified Heinze would be back, Beatriz hides until she sees another car & flags them down. She convinces her rescuers to search for Lena. pic.twitter.com/soQXYkM6Fj— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) October 8, 2017
Heinze’s vehicle became stuck in the dunes, where he was found by police. He was arrested, and this year sentenced to 22 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 17 years.
Beatriz told Brown “he is a sick person. I’m happy that he won’t harm other people, so I’m happy. That’s it.”
Heinze will spend at least 17 years behind bars where, if he has any insight, he’ll forever regret taking on these two phenomenal women. pic.twitter.com/FJFBDdSva4— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) October 8, 2017
You can catch the extraordinary full segment here.
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Image: 60 Minutes / Channel 9