true crime

Salt Creek survivor Lena says she was moments from death. Then she had an incredible idea.

It’s the stuff of horror films and nightmares. Two young female backpackers, Lena Rabente, 25, from Germany and her Brazilian friend Beatriz, picked up by 61-year-old Roman Heinze who promised to drive them from Adelaide to Melbourne.

Except he didn’t take them to Melbourne. Tricking the women by telling them they’d “see some kangaroos”, Heinze instead drove to a remote beach in South Australia Coorong National Park where he tied them up, beat them and sexually assaulted them.

“I thought ‘I’m going to die’. I was really sure about it,” Rabente told last night’s episode of 60 Minutes It’s the first time the women have spoken to media since the ordeal last February. “I already imagined myself dying there and that’s why I didn’t want to give up in the end.”

Heinze had used a hammer to hit Rabente several times before trying to run her over in his 4WD.

“I didn’t know what he’d hit me with because I couldn’t see immediately, but I thought ‘that’s the end’ because the smash was so hard,” she said.

She started to run, weaving through the bushes and the low-lying beach shrub. Losing blood and losing strength at every moment.

“I got weaker and weaker — I knew I couldn’t go on for this for very long,” Rabente said.

What she decided to do next took extreme courage and desperation, but it was the move that ultimately saved her life.

“When he turned around the next time and was facing me with the car, I thought, ‘okay, I have to do something, because I can’t keep on going’,” Rabente said.

“I ran towards the car and just jumped on the bonnet, and I was holding myself on the antenna of the car, and then pushing myself up on the bonnet, and then straight going on to the roof, because I thought, ‘OK, I’m safe on the roof. He can’t get on the roof’.”


The episode of Casefile you need to listen to. Post continues below.

Beatriz, meanwhile, who’d been tied up and sexually assaulted but had convinced Heinze she was “on his side” so that he would untie her, had silently ran off, trying to find help.

“I felt like I was in a horror movie,” she said.

Eventually, she flagged down a group of fisherman driving past. “They saw a girl, naked, running and waving for them. Once I got in the car and I started screaming, they knew it was serious,” she said.

Rabente, still on the roof, finally made a ‘deal’ with Heinze that she would get down off the top of the car if he dropped his weapons.

Under the guise of cooperation, she too ran for it, meeting up with Beatriz and the fishermen.

This is the first time the two women have spoken publicly about the horror they lived through. Beatriz said she is still suffering from post-traumatic stress.

“I prefer not to be outside after sunset because I just don’t feel comfortable,” she said. “I don’t feel safe anymore. If I see someone on the street, I start thinking they might be following me.”

Heinze was found guilty in May of six charges including indecent assault, aggravated kidnapping, and endangering life. He was sentenced to 22 years in jail – a term he is currently appealing.