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The Body in the Forest, a Dark Poem Based on True Events

John has been writing poetry since his school days. He was awarded "Poet of the Year 2014" Hubby Awards and has had two poems become songs.

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Based on True Events

It doesn't feel right to say this poem was "inspired" by the gruesome true events that took place in the Belanglo State Forest, NSW, Australia during the 1990s, so maybe I should just say it was "based" on those horrific murders by a man named Ivan Milat (better known as the Backpack Murderer).

You can find out about that true story by watching the video after the poem.

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The Body in the Forest

Beneath the forest canopy,

Hidden deep within,

A body lies there lifeless,

Rigor mortis has set in.


"A young girl has gone missing,"

So says the police report,

"13 year old Melissa Hart.

Her parents are distraught."


"A thorough search is underway.

So far there are no clues.

Her last reported whereabouts,

She went to buy new shoes."


"Melissa is a charming girl,

No one would wish her harm.

Hopefully she's off with friends,

And there's no cause for alarm."

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A couple hiking through the woods

Stumble on a gruesome sight,

A naked female body

In the dappled leafy light.


It's one week since she disappeared,

Her identity is learned.

The cause of death, blunt trauma,

It's homicide confirmed.


Witnesses are being sought.

Prime suspects, there are few.

Forensic experts scour the scene,

To find the smallest clue.


But often murders go unsolved

For evidence is lacked,

And many killers never caught.

A terrifying fact.

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U.S. unsolved murders on the way up

Every U.S. territory has seen a general increase in murders over the last decade. Puerto Rico has the highest murder rate at 26.2 per 100,000 people. An amazing 1,136 murders occurred in 2011 alone. Yet Puerto Rico boasts twice as many police officers per capita as any U.S. state

From 1980 to 2008 nearly 185,000 homicides went unsolved in the U.S. Some cities, like New Orleans, have low murder clearance rates ( the police were unable to present the court with an accused). Others, like Washington, D.C., have nearly doubled their success rate to a creditable 96 percent. Nearly 6,000 homicides go unsolved every year in the U.S. A national average of 66 percent solved is unacceptable.

Comments

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on April 24, 2019:

Oh dear, sorry about 5hat Paul. I should have issued a warning “DO NOT Read Alone or at Night! Thanks for braving it.

Ryan Paul S Balagtas from Philippines on April 24, 2019:

Read this at 0130 H, alone in my house and I'm scared now....

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on June 10, 2017:

Thanks for reading, Galaxy, and for the fine comment.

GalaxyRat on June 10, 2017:

Awesome poem. Very descriptive and revealing. Thanks for writing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on February 27, 2015:

Thanks for reading this Peg. I realise it isn't a pleasant subject but evil is lurking in our society and we need to be aware of it. Yes the stats are disturbing.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on February 27, 2015:

Your poem delicately brings to light the atrocities that predators sometimes manage to get away with. The statistics are frightening and seem to be growing larger each year. Evil does exist and where we would least expect to find it.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on January 09, 2015:

So true agvulpes, Milat is pure evil and it obviously runs in the family because his nephew killed his schoolmate in the same forest just a few years ago also. I can imagine the 'feeling' you get driving past there, a good place to keep away from. Thanks for reading.

Peter from Australia on January 09, 2015:

It is just so hard to perceive how someone can commit these sort of crimes?

When I drive up the Hume Highway I get some sort of 'feeling' and can't get past Belanglo fast enough. There is no way that I would drive through that forest after what has happened there :)

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 29, 2014:

Thanks for reading Amy. Yes, I usually have a cause or message I want to get across and I find using poetry is a great way to do it. All the pics and other info keep the readers engaged and provides the body of info.

Amy Naylor from England on July 29, 2014:

Wow that's really dark. Amazing poetry I love it. I also love that you include a lot of relevant information and pictures in your poetry hubs, it makes them all the more hard hitting. Thanks for sharing.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 23, 2014:

Thanks DDE for reading this, even though it is an unpleasant subject.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 23, 2014:

A great write up and so much from you to feel here.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 23, 2014:

Thanks so much for reading Victoria, and your comment is appreciated.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on July 23, 2014:

So true and so well written!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 23, 2014:

Thanks Suzanne, if I have a message to convey I try to make it as clear and easy to read as possible. Glad you enjoyed this poem. Can't wish for better than an 'awesome' vote.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on July 23, 2014:

Hi Jodah, I quite enjoyed this poem and felt you handled the rhyming perfectly within the subject matter (homicides). Thanks for a great, easy to read poem with a little bit of suspense....voted awesome.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 21, 2014:

Thank you for reading teaches, and for you kind comment. It is a disturbing subject but needs to be discussed and we always need to be vigilant.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 21, 2014:

Thank you for reading this hub Lurana. I knew that parents in particular could relate to this being one myself. The amount of people, particularly children, who go missing in staggering and it is worrying that many are never found, and others after being held captive for years.

Dianna Mendez on July 21, 2014:

Evil is on the rise in our nation and the number of murders as a result is increasing. Your poem is quite a visual picture of the emotional trauma that it causes.

MrsBrownsParlour on July 21, 2014:

Missing children are close to my heart too...as a parent, I can imagine nothing worse. Thank you for using poetry to reach people about things that matter. Well done!

~Lurana

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 18, 2014:

Thank you for reading Michael and for your kind comment. It is a sad and evil act but it is something we can't ignore

Michael-Milec on July 17, 2014:

Hi Jodah. Your masterly presentation of sad and evil act of murder kept horror hidden until the end. Very well done.

Voted interesting.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 16, 2014:

Thank you Cris. I agree with your concerns. Every parent needs to be very aware of the evil in society. I am glad this hub helps spread that awareness, even if the subject is unpleasant. I appreciate the vote up.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on July 15, 2014:

I get paranoid reading stuff like this and that makes me over protected to my daughters. The number of missing people specially kids and young adults are increasingly high. I hear them in the news all the time and it is very alarming.

What a great hub to create awareness and call for attention that there are evil people lurking around us. Beware!

Voting up on this very important matter and you captured it so creatively.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 15, 2014:

Hi Alicia, my main object of writing this was to make people aware of the disturbing statistics. The best way I know of communicating is with poetry, hence the poem. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 15, 2014:

You've shared some alarming and informative statistics, Jodah, as well as a moving poem. The poem is very sad, but unfortunately events like the one that you've described do happen.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 15, 2014:

Thank you so much Devika. I appreciate your kind comment.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 15, 2014:

Flourish, I am sorry that this story brought back unpleasant memories for you. Now I am beginning to maybe regret writing this. I knew it may not have been a pleasant subject for a lot of people but I don't want it to hurt anyone. Thank you for sharing about your poor cousin.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 15, 2014:

Thanks for reading this Dana. I understand that this type of story is not a pleasant read, but as you say we do not live in a perfect world and can't ignore these bad things that happen around us. We just have to hope that ourselves and families aren't affected directly. Thanks for your kind comment too.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 14, 2014:

A wonderful way of showing true emotions.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 14, 2014:

Somber poem, John, that captures the essence and brutality of the crime. My young cousin was murdered many years ago, her body never found. We strongly suspect who did it. He died in prison, convicted of another crime and claiming to some that he burned her body. The case, however, is officially unsolved.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on July 14, 2014:

I applaud you for this article. Jodah, I truly believe that a true writer doesn't always write what everyone wants to read. We do not live in a perfect world and a real writer- writes the truth that will open eyes. We all want to live in a world of fairy-tales but the world is not a fairy-tale.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

In a perfect world MsDora we would never have to write such depressing things. I don't know what the stats are in the Caribbean where you live. It is seen as a place with a relaxed and carefree life style, so hopefully the figures are lower there. We do all need to be made aware of these gruesome realities from time to time though. Thanks for reading and commenting.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

Yes Ubani you are so correct. It is sad that there are so many murderers are among us and many are invisible. The person who greets you with a smile on the street or living next door could be a killer, how can we be sure? Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

It is a shocking reality Ruby. We all know these things happen, but not how bad the statistics actually are. Thanks for your kind words and for tweeting.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

Yes Shauna, she certainly did.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 14, 2014:

Jodah, your poem captures the reality so well. Wish we never had to write about anything so gruesome; but we need to be reminded. Thank you.

Alexander Thandi Ubani from Lagos on July 14, 2014:

True talk; sad tale. We should be very careful especially now that murders and psychos walk about in broad daylight disguised as good humans. Thank you for bringing this to light. good work.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 14, 2014:

This is a shocking read. The statistics you listed are alarming. I love the way you tell a story in rhymes. Brilliantly pened...Shared on twitter..

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 14, 2014:

John, I hope Kathleen denied the request!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

Thanks Shauna. Yes it was quite a relief when he was caught and locked away. Want to hear something freaky? About a year ago my wife received a Facebook friend request from 'him', or someone claiming to be him.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 14, 2014:

John, you presented a well-defined picture of a gruesome occurrence. I'm glad Milat was finally taken down. The scary thing is there are others out there just like him.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

Thank you Ann, for your kind words once again. I am grateful that you enjoy reading my hubs. Have a great day.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 14, 2014:

Sadly, these serial killings are all too common, here and everywhere. A well presented hub, as always, with your lovely poetry bringing more poignancy to the subject.

I always enjoy reading your work, John. Ann

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

Thanks for reading Jamie. Sorry.

Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on July 14, 2014:

Well written! I was terrified! Jamie

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

Thanks Bill, sad but true.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 14, 2014:

There is evil among us, John, and they leave, in their wake, death and sadness....you captured it perfectly.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

Thank you for reading Chtrangada. I appreciate your kind and insightful comment and the vote up. I agree with your sentiments.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 14, 2014:

Very expressive poem and how sad that murders do happen and the culprit is either not found or if found, is released due to lack of evidence.

Your poem is beautiful and sad at the same time.

Well done! Thanks and voted up!

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

Yes Eric, I have to throw a dark poem in amongst my uplifting and funny hubs now and then. It's not a perfect world unfortunately.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 14, 2014:

Thanks Frank, sometimes you just have to be confronting to make your point strongly enough. Maybe your detectives should investigate the case. Thanks for the vote up too.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 14, 2014:

Just plain dark all the way around.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on July 14, 2014:

Jodah, these types of poems can come at you without mercy and still hits the mark.. the words are nail-biting.. sad commentary.. voted up and awesome Frank

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 13, 2014:

Thanks Nell. I should look up the statistics for Britain as well. I think it is a disturbing trend in many countries though. Yes it is sad that thus is the case.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 13, 2014:

Thanks for reading and the kind comment Pamela. I don't think I can remember the last time I watched the news and there wasn't a report of a murder. It is a worry that there are so many murderers among us who haven't been caught.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 13, 2014:

Hi word55, yes the stats say the rate of murders has actually fallen in the last ten years but that unsolved murders have increased which is a worry. Perhaps the rapidly increasing population makes it more difficult to apprehend the perpetrators, I am not sure. I doubt that murderers are getting smarter and you'd think better forensic technology would make solving crimes easier, so who knows.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 13, 2014:

Yes Kevin, it would be an ideal world if authorities could find away to prevent murders occurring but I doubt that will ever happen. The next best thing would be to solve them all and catch the killers if that were possible. With DNA testing they are now solving a lot of cold cases which is good.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 13, 2014:

Hello Genna, thanks for your kind comment. The statistics are certainly a worry. I think you would need to be a killer to understand the mind of one. Thank you for the vote up.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 13, 2014:

Hi Faith. Wow, your tale is creepy because it was so close to home. A girl you knew, and murdered by a young man that smiled at you as you walked by his family's store...I wonder if he did mistake Truly for you...scary. You can never tell a killer by appearances can you? Thanks for the vote up. I had a great Sunday thanks, hope yours is good too.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 13, 2014:

Thanks for reading this dark tale Rachael. The backpacker murders baffled police here in this country for years and resulted in less foreign students coming to Australia as backpackers for a long time. As you say, serial killers usually make a mistake eventually, and in this case it was fortunate that one fellow escaped to report it to police. The eerie thing is, the nephew of Ivan Milat tortured and murdered a school friend in the same forest years later. Thanks for the vote up too.

Nell Rose from England on July 13, 2014:

Its such a nightmare isn't it? only 66 percent found or charged, not sure what the stats are over here, but it seems to be on the trend so to speak, wonderful poem but so sad too, nell

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 13, 2014:

Muder is an awful thing that we hear about daily, and I always hope the murderer will be found and justice will be served. The video telss a story that is told way to many times these days. Your poem is well written as always.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on July 13, 2014:

Thanks Jodah for the poetic understanding of this horrible act of murder. May the killer be brought to justice. Unfortunately people are getting away with murder more than before. Thanks for sharing.

The Examiner-1 on July 13, 2014:

It always seems to work out that way. We need to do something to change it though. It is a shame, and terrible, that these things are gotten away with. They have to find ways to solve unsolved murders, but it would even be better to find a way to prevent them.

Kevin

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 13, 2014:

I think Faith said it best...shameful statistics, and a poem that paints a chilling portrait of evil, and its aftermath. I will never understand what creates the mind and heart of a killer. Voted up and more.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on July 13, 2014:

Sad statistics indeed and a poem that paints evil so well. That photo reminds me of Truly Johnson, a girl in my high school who was killed in this same way back in Georgia. She was a sweet, carefree girl. Thankfully, they caught the young man who did it. He was a clean-cut really good looking young man with a nice smile. I know, because when I walked home from school, he would stand out front of his family's business and smile as I walked by. His name was Kilpatrick and his family owned a fabric store. Truly was killed in the woods behind his family's business while taking a shortcut to the store. Thinking about it gives me chills, as I had long straight hair parted in the middle in high school and maybe he thought she was me! So glad he was caught. The face of evil is so deceptive just as Ted Bundy.

Up and more and away

Have a wonderful Sunday

Rachael O'Halloran from United States on July 13, 2014:

This hub was at the top of my notifications too, but it took me a little over 9 1/2 minutes to watch the video. lol

This is a sad but well written, Jodah. The serial killer story confirms the long held theory that murderers are not as smart as they think they are. They will always slip up and do something that will give them away.

I went back and re-read your poem and after viewing the video, it made your poem all the more touching.

I am very sad for the families. Voted up and interesting.

Ryan from Louisiana, USA on July 13, 2014:

Yeah, it was at the top when I signed on. Looked interesting. Plus I am always looking for poetry and different styles. This one was more of a dark piece but a great poem.

John Hansen (author) from Queensland Australia on July 13, 2014:

Thank you Fullerman5000, you were very quick to read this..within mintes of publishing. Thank you for your generous comment. Yes, it is one of my darker works.

Ryan from Louisiana, USA on July 13, 2014:

Great poem about a dark and scary topic. I really enjoyed the comparisons and how the paint a horrific picture in ones mind. Great work.