Claremont Serial Killer

During the Mid 90’s, three women, Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon, disappeared within a year of each other from the same area of Claremont, Perth, Australia. All three women had been on a night out with friends within the same entertainment precinct, the remains of Rimmer and Glennon were later discovered but the fate of Spiers remains a mystery, although it is assumed she met the same fate as the other two and by the hands of the same man. In 2016, Bradley Robert Edwards, a Telstra employee, was arrested and held on remand until his trial in November 2019 – June 2020, for the triple murders and other attacks on women. In September 2020 Edwards was found guilty of murdering Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon. He was found not guilty for the murder of Sarah Spiers.

VICTIMS

L-R Victims; Ciara Glennon, Jane Rimmer
and Sarah Spiers

Sarah Spiers:

18 year old secretary, Sarah Spiers, left Club Bayview, central Claremont, at approximately 2am on January 27th 1996. She was seen waiting in the dark, alone, by a witness, Alec Pannell, for a taxi on Stirling Road, next to Stirling Highway. He testified in court that he saw..

“a slim, young woman leaning against a post with her arms crossed, looking around as if expecting someone”.

sunshinecoastdaily
Sarah Spiers

Another testimony was given by the now retired taxi driver, Jaroslav Krupnik. He recounted in court that Spiers had called Swan Taxi’s for a cab at 2:06am on January 27th 1996, from a public pay phone and when he arrived, only minutes later, to collect her she was nowhere to be seen. Witnesses reported seeing an unidentified car approach Spiers but didn’t know what happened to her or the car afterwards.

Taxi driver, Jaroslav Krupnik (now)

Witness, Julie-Anne Johnstone, claimed she saw a Telstra vehicle (like the one driven by Edwards) in Claremont around the same time Spiers vanished. She said the man in the vehicle had been parked beside her for approximately 15 minutes before winding down his window and staring at her for around 30 seconds. When she questioned him on what he wanted he did not respond. Feeling uneasy, Johnstone walked away from the man and the situation.

Julie-Anne Johnstone
Telstra vehicle driven by Bradley Robert Edwards.

Side note: Interestingly, Telstra company records showed Edwards had taken sick leave on 28th January 1996, the day after Sarah Spiers disappeared.

Massive press coverage surrounded Spiers’ disappearance and despite extensive searches, Sarah Spiers has never been found or seen alive since. It is a widely accepted and reasonable conclusion that she experienced the same fate as the following two victims…

Jane Rimmer:

Less than two months later, on June 9th 1996, Jane Rimmer, a 23 year old childcare worker, was on a night out with friends in Claremont. They were queuing to enter Club Bayview, (the same place Sarah Spiers had attended) having just been for drinks at the Ocean Beach hotel and the Continental Hotel.

Jane Rimmer
Club Bayview

Due to the long waiting time her friends decided to head home, Jane decided to stay and continue her night out. At just after midnight, Rimmer was caught on a security camera waiting outside the Continental Hotel, where she had been earlier that night. It is unknown why she had returned there.

Continental Hotel

What happened after that remained a mystery until almost two months later when her decomposing remains were discovered, under vegetation, in an area of bush-land in Wellard. On August 3rd 1996 Michael Evans, his wife, Tammy Van Raalte-Evans and their children had been driving down Woolcoot Road, Wellard, when they were forced to stop after a rooster dashed out in front of their car. As they got out to chase the bird away from the main road, the mother of the family, Tammy Van Raalte-Evans, spotted what she described as “the biggest death lily” she’d ever seen. As she went in for a closer look of the flower, she unintentionally stumbled upon Jane Rimmer’s remains, hidden amongst the under bush.

I thought it was a stick… it was a foot

“I was in there for I suppose a couple of minutes … and then I felt on the back of my leg … I thought it was a stick and it was a foot… When I looked it was a female body… All her bottom half was naked. It looked like she was on her tummy” 

Tammy Van Raalte-Evans / abc.net.au
Michael Evans and Tammy Van Raalte-Evans discovered Jane Rimmer’s remains

She had been posed laying on her side with her arm outstretched. Due to the amount of decomposition, Jane Rimmer’s cause of death was undetermined but the post mortem showed a 10-17cm, clear, ragged, diamond shaped defect on her neck which is believed to have been caused by a sawing action with a bladed weapon. These injuries indicate her throat had been cut with a knife. Deep cuts on her left arm indicate she had tried to defend herself from the attack.

Woolcoot Road in Wellard, where Jane Rimmer’s remains were discovered
Forensic investigators sift through evidence at the Wellard crime scene

Nearby residents came forward and reported to detectives that on the night Rimmer is believed to have been killed they heard a woman screaming…

“leave me alone, let me out of here!”

nnwatoday

Other witnesses claimed they’d heard loud, piercing screams which suddenly just stopped – mid-scream. Police believe that was the moment Edwards cut Rimmer’s throat.

Note: I couldn’t determine whether the residents had reported these screams to police at the time or if they had only come forward after Rimmer’s remains were found.

Detectives also located a telecom pocket knife near where Rimmer’s remains were found. It was used as evidence in court.

Telecom pocket knife located close to where Rimmer’s body was discovered.
A tribute cross placed where Rimmer’s remains were found

Ciara Glennon

On March 15th 1997, Ciara Glennon, a solicitor, was on a night out in Claremont, just as the other two women had been. She had been at the Continental hotel, again – just like Jane Rimmer had been, with work friends before heading home alone. Witnesses reported seeing her passing a bus stop on Stirling Highway at around 12.30.am. They told police she was approached by an unknown light coloured vehicle.

Ciara Glennon

Almost three weeks later, on April 3rd 1997, her semi naked remains were found, face down, in bush-land in Pipidinny Road, Eglinton by Jason Atkinson. He admitted to the court he had been searching for cannabis plants at the time he discovered Glennon’s remains. A “severely rotten stench” alerted him to something untoward and his curiosity got the better of him.

“I’m nosy by nature so, yeah, I had a look and I found her,”

Jason Atkinson / www.abc.net.au

Detectives called to the scene were also struck by the smell, initially they thought the remains could have been a dead kangaroo;

“But the smell didn’t smell like a dead kangaroo,”

Detective Edward Besson / Canberra times
Authorities at the Eglinton crime scene
Investigators at the Eglinton crime scene
Forensic investigators sift through evidence at the Eglinton crime scene

She had been covered in vegetation and posed with an arm outstretched, her left thigh positioned slightly higher up and her right arm was placed underneath her – almost mirroring how Jane Rimmer was discovered. Her nails had been damaged, suggesting Glennon had been trying to defend herself.

“The edges are irregular, shredded, torn, disrupted, not rounded and inconsistent to the remaining nails,” 

Autopsy report / Dr Margolius / www.abc.net.au

Video footage taken at the Eglinton crime scene, where Glennon’s remains were found, was played in court with former forensic supervisor Robert Hemelaar describing the scene…

“Bark on a tree and twigs appeared to have been torn off and placed on Ciara’s body… We’ve now removed a portion of the vegetation, we are seeing the deceased person”

Robert Hemelaar / news.com
Ciara Glennon

Edwards’ DNA was found discovered under Glennon’s finger nails. In his verdict, the judge who’d presided over Edwards’ trial, Justice Hall, wrote…

I am satisfied that the evidence establishes beyond reasonable doubt that the DNA of the accused was under the nails of Ms Glennon’s left hand and that it got there in the course of a violent struggle that occurred sometime shortly before her death.

Justice Stephen Hall

The post-mortem ultimately determined she’d died from a neck injury where by the “large, gaping” wound went from her right temple down to her neck, caused by a sharp object. Further to the cause of death, the pathologist, Dr Margolius, also concluded that Glennon had suffered a depressed fracture to her skull, indicating she had been struck over the head prior to her death, an attack which could possibly have caused

“obtunding, blunting of the senses, momentarily stunning her or rendering her semi-conscious,”

Autopsy report / Dr Margolius / www.abc.net.au

Police officially confirmed they believed all three cases were connected and that they were searching for a serial killer – dubbed by the press as the Claremont Serial Killer. A reward for $250,000 was offered and the investigation became the longest and most expensive case in Perth’s history. The Task Force set up to investigate initially concentrated on taxi drivers since all three women had been waiting for a taxi when they disappeared. It highlighted a problem of the tremendous amounts of unlicensed taxi drivers in the area and the State, resulting in stricter licensing and taxi standards.

L-R Victims; Ciara Glennon, Jane Rimmer
and Sarah Spiers

Criminal profiling suggested the killer was a well educated white man, 25-35 years old, who lived or had lived in the area.

Edwards, around the time of the murders

In December 2005, almost 9 years after the murders it was revealed that forensic testing had been able to identify fibres found on Jane Rimmer and concluded they were from a VS Series 1 Holden Commodore. Witnesses came forward and recounted seeing a man approach multiple women on the side of the road to offer them lifts, he was driving a Telstra station wagon. The same car was reported as being seen parked outside a local cemetery where a 17 year old was repeatedly raped in 1995. Bradley Robert Edwards drove a Holden Commodore VS Series 1 station wagon, with Telstra signage, during that time.

Police arrested suspect Bradley Robert Edwards, then 48, in December 2016. The same day, his former Telstra vehicle was seized from its current owners for forensic testing.

Former Telstra vehicle driven by the killer, Bradley Robert Edwards.
Forensic investigators gathered evidence from the back of Edwards’ former Telstra car
A special light provided evidence that Edwards’ former car had once displayed Telstra logos

As well as the matching car fibres, further analysis of Edwards’ former car (from the time of the murders) resulted in a treasure trove of forensic evidence being collected. Most importantly perhaps was rare, blue, polyester fibres discovered in the car which was found to come from custom-made Telstra trousers worn by Edwards during the time of the murders. Matching fibres were discovered on the bodies of Jane Rimmer, Ciara Glennon and a pair of shorts worn by the 17 year old rape victim when she was attacked. This evidence linked Edwards and his vehicle to the two murders and the sexual assault.

During his trial, Edwards’ defence team tried to claim that the evidence could have been contaminated either in the lab or at the crime scenes and that it simply ‘wasn’t him’.

However, those involved in the investigations denied this was a possibility. In regards to the Ciara Glennon crime scene, detectives Charles Carver and Edward Besson were awarded commissioner’s commendation for preserving the site.

“We were aware that we had to keep the scene pristine and that’s exactly what we did.”

Detective Edward Besson / Canberra times

The defence refuted claims that either of the murder crime scenes were forensically preserved. One of the many officers they accused of crime scene contamination was Michael Teraci, the officer assigned the task of videoing the sites. They alleged he was wearing blue overalls but no head, hands or feet protection when recording the Wellard crime scene and no protection at all at the Eglinton one.

Michael Teraci

Teraci denied allegations that he contaminated the crime scenes and said he had always kept a distance of at least a few meters from the bodies, zooming in to get the shots, so therefore could not have contaminated them with fibres.

As careful as the investigators were they found that journalists were an issue as they often tried to gain access to the Glennon crime scene, with one in particular being arrested for breeching police cordons.

“We had many issues with the media at the time…in relation to trying to get into the scene and people sneaking over sand dunes,”

Detective Charles Carver / Canberra Times

In further evidence against Edwards, State prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo demonstrated to the court that the attacks coincided with ‘difficult and emotional moments’ in Edwards’ life…

  • The attack at Hollywood Hospital occurred after Edwards and his then girlfriend had argued over her pushing for him to marry her.
  • Shortly before the 17 year old was attacked in Karrakatta Cemetery, Edwards’ marriage to his wife had broken up due to her infidelity another man – their lodger, and she had moved back in with her parents.
  • Sarah Spiers disappeared on the night of Australia day. Earlier that same night Edwards had turned up at his in-laws house hoping his estranged wife would go to a fireworks display with him. She refused and he left, visibly upset.

Had his wife actually been his intended target that night, in revenge for hurting him but after she refused to go with him he went out and took Spiers instead?

  • When Jane Rimmer disappeared Edwards had just learned his wife was pregnant with the other mans baby.
  • Ciara Glennon disappeared just after Edwards and his wife signed the documents to sell the house they had shared together.
State prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo

Edwards was subsequently charged with the wilful murders of Jane Rimmer, Ciara Glennon and Sarah Spiers, alongside several offences on other unnamed victims including unlawful detention, and sexual assault.

Wilful Murder: The IRC Justice papers define the difference between murder and wilful murder as…

Wilful murder is premeditated and carefully thought out. Murder is a horrific crime in any context. Wilful murder is a
more heinous crime because it has involved a lot of planning
and premeditation by the perpetrator.

On the eve of his trial, Edwards admitted to an attack in 1988, when he would have been 19 / 20 years old. He confessed to having cut the phone line to a property in Huntingdale, Perth, before entering and attacking the 18 year old female occupant who had been asleep inside. He told detectives he had attempted to shove a cloth in her mouth as he straddled her but she’d freed herself and managed to escape, alerting her parents who were sleeping in another room. Edwards then fled the property without realising he had left behind a silk kimono with crucial DNA evidence on it.

Bradley Robert Edwards also confessed to the abduction of the 17 year old girl from Claremont. He had grabbed her from behind as she walked through Rowe Park, after a night out at Club Bayview. Edwards covered her head and tied her up with a telecom cord before taking her to Karrakatta Cemetery where he dragged her several meters before raping / sodomising her multiple times. After the assault, he shoved her face down into the undergrowth while she pretended to be unconscious but then returned minutes later and pushed her into a thicker bush. It wasn’t until she heard him drive away that she fled and called for help. When talking about the attack the 17 year old said…

‘I remember my face lying against the dirt. I thought at the end of it all that he was going to kill me,’

Court evidence of drag marks, which were at least 3 meters long, from the attack on the 17 year old girl in Karrakatta Cemetery.

In court he whimpered a guilty plea to 5 charges pertaining to the two attacks – including sexual assault, deprivation of liberty and unlawful detention, But he denied being the Claremont Killer.

Karrakatta Cemetery, where Edwards raped a 17 year old multiple times
Bradley Robert Edwards

A strong piece of evidence against him was the car he drove at the time of the murders – a white VS Series Wagon with Telstra logos, just like the one seen by witnesses. Advances in forensic testing also provided further evidence against Edwards – Semen on the silk kimono and DNA found under Ciara Glennon’s fingernails was proven to be a positive match to Edwards, as well as the fibres from his work clothes and Telstra work vehicle which were found on three of his victims.

TRIAL

After his arrest, Edwards was remanded in jail until his trial, which began on 25th November 2019. It was originally due to start in July 2019 but was delayed due to 14 pre-trial hearings over 19 sitting days.

The prosecution applied (and was granted) for the trial to be a judge only trial, (a trial to be conducted without a jury) due to the ‘extensive and pervasive’ amount of pre-trial publicity as well as the ‘particularly graphic and disturbing’ evidence to be shown in court. The estimated length of the trial and complexity of the evidence was also taken into consideration.

“Some preconceptions and speculations have been so widely and repeatedly disseminated through all the media forums over the many years since the Claremont series that there is a real risk that they have permeated the public consciousness in a way that cannot be adequately addressed by directions to a jury.”

“I accept that the characterisation of the material as ‘particularly graphic and disturbing’ and ‘so upsetting to some jurors that they may be unable to objectively consider the relevance and significance of [what] these exhibits depict’ is accurate, having regard to the obligations owed by the prosecutor to the court in making this application.”

 Supreme Court Justice Michael Corboy

The trail was heard before Justice Stephen Hall.

Justice Stephen Hall

The trial lasted 95 days – spread over several months, concluding on 25th June 2020 after vast amounts of evidence was heard, consisting of 2,879 exhibits, 10,828 pages of transcript and testimonies from 240 witnesses who either testified in court or had their evidence read out on their behalf. The prosecution brief alone had consisted of 178 lever arch files in 44 boxes!

Any graphic evidence to be shown in court was done so on a need to see basis only. (It was only shown to those who needed to see it, such as the accused -Mr Edwards, senior legal counsel and the judge – Justice Hall) A large white screen was put in front of the public gallery to prevent everyone else from seeing it. Audio from any video footage was able to be heard but not seen due to the privacy screen.

On 24th September 2020 Justice Stephen Hall returned a 619-page written verdict, finding Bradley Robert Edwards guilty, proven beyond all reasonable doubt, of the wilful murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon. He was found not guilty of the wilful murder of Sarah Spiers, however it was noted that he more than likely was guilty, there was simply not enough forensic evidence to prove it.

Justice Stephen Hall’s 619-page written verdict.

In summarising the murder of Jane Rimmer, as per the evidence, Justice Hall wrote…

“The accused abducted Ms Rimmer on the early morning of 9 June 1996 in Claremont. He used his work vehicle, a VS Holden Commodore station wagon, to drive her from the area. It is not possible to determine exactly how he managed to get Ms Rimmer into the car. He then drove her to Wellard. At some point a violent struggle ensued. Ms Rimmer was able to scream but the accused had a knife or other sharp object, which he used to attack her. She tried to fend off the attack and incurred a defensive injury to her wrist. The accused then, with intent to kill, stabbed or slashed her with the sharp instrument, causing one or more fatal injuries to her neck. Given the screams it is likely that this struggle occurred at Wellard. The accused removed Ms Rimmer’s clothing and disposed of her body in Wellard. He either took or concealed the clothes. He chose a semi-rural location and put her body on the ground before covering her
with vegetation he gathered from the surrounding area. His intention in so doing was to minimise the chances of her being found and his offence being discovered.”

Justice Stephen Hall

In summarising the murder of Ciara Glennon, as per the evidence, Justice Hall wrote…

“The findings also lead me to conclude that the accused abducted Ms Glennon on the early morning of 15 March 1997 in Claremont as she was walking home. He again used his work vehicle, a VS Holden Commodore station wagon, to drive her from the area. It is not possible to determine exactly how he managed to get Ms Glennon into the car. At some point a violent struggle ensued in which Ms Glennon scratched or clawed at the accused, thereby getting some of his DNA under her nails. The accused had a knife or other sharp object, which he used to attack her. Ms Glennon tried to fend off the attack and incurred a defensive injury to her arm. The accused then, with intent to kill, stabbed or slashed her with the sharp instrument, causing one or more fatal injuries to her neck. Given the pattern of blood soaking on her clothes it is likely that the fatal wound or wounds was inflicted at Eglinton. The accused then disposed of the body of Ms Glennon in bushland at Eglinton. He chose a semi-rural location and put her body on the ground before covering her with vegetation he gathered or broke off from surrounding trees and bushes. His intention in so doing was to minimise the chances of her being found and his offence being discovered.”

Justice Stephen Hall

Edwards was sentenced on December 23rd 2020 to life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 40 years.

Bradley Robert Edwards – ‘The Claremont Killer’ court sketch.

PREVIOUS KNOWN ATTACKS

On May 7th 1990 Edwards had attacked a women in Hollywood Hospital. She had been working at her desk when he grabbed her from behind and forced a cloth into her mouth to stifle her screams. (Just as he had in the Huntingdale attack) He dragged her to a toilet cubicle but she was able to break free and fled. He was arrested and having confessed to the attack he was charged with common assault and ordered to complete a sex offenders program.

Side note: Interestingly, Telstra company records showed Edwards had taken unpaid leave on May 8th 1990, the day after attacking the lady at the hospital.

Allegedly, police informed the father of missing student, Julie Cutler, 22, that it was very likely she was another victim of Edwards’. Cutler disappeared on June 22nd 1988 from the Parmelia Hilton Hotel, Perth. (A mere 11 mins drive from Claremont) Her car was discovered a couple of days later on a beach near the Cottesloe groyne . Although her fate remains unknown, authorities believe it is reasonable to conclude she is deceased.

Julie Leanne Cutler
Parmelia Hilton Hotel, Perth
Cutler’s smashed up sedan was found on a beach

The Hollywood hospital attack, alongside the Huntingdale and Karrakatta attacks, as well as the murders of Rimmer and Glennon clearly demonstrates a propensity on Edwards’ part to violently attack women. Its reasonable to assume therefore that these attacks and murders are not the only ones he has committed, but are the only ones known about, for now. How many more has he possibly got away with? With forensics improving all the time I don’t think it’ll be long before more victims of Bradley Robert Edwards are discovered.

To read Justice Stephen Hall’s returned verdict / decision – https://ecourts.justice.wa.gov.au/eCourtsPortal/Decisions/DownloadDecision?id=9582e4ba-91ec-4119-998b-269447363aed&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

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REFERENCES: Twitter: https://twitter.com/heather_watoday/status/1204689868221083648 Tide forecast: https://www.tide-forecast.com/locations/Claremont-1 abc.net.au: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-01/claremont-serial-killings-edwards-car-fibres-matched-victims/12084876 / https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-24/claremont-serial-killer-trial-suppression-order-lifted/11898410 / https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-17/claremont-serial-killer-ciara-glennon-seen-talking-to-car-driver/11804108 / https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-19/reward-julie-leanne-cutler-30-year-old-mystery-disappearance/9885782 / https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-05/claremont-serial-killing-trial-last-sighting-of-sarah-spiers/11767442 The West: https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/claremont-murders-car-seized-ng-b88346860z Find a grave:https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/1967491/karrakatta-cemetery-and-crematorium Watoday: https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/how-miraculous-discovery-of-body-revealed-clues-to-claremont-killer-20200629- p5576i.html#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9Cmiraculous%E2%80%9D%20discovery%20of%20Jane,detectives%20had%20been%20waiting%20for.&text=A%20family%20made%20the%20grim,40%20kilometres%20south%20of%20Perth. / https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/i-couldn-t-leave-her-emotions-run-high-as-witnesses-describe-finding-claremont-victims-bodies-20191217-p53kx9.html/ Wikiwand: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Claremont_serial_killings#/overview Canberra Times: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6571988/claremont-victim-mistaken-as-dead-kangaroo/ Irc justice: https://www.lrc.justice.wa.gov.au/_files/P97-ch02.pdf Stay at home mum: https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/true-crime-series/did-the-claremont-serial-murderer-kill-julie-cutler/ 1news: https://www.1news.info/australian-news/detective-who-inspected-claremont-body-has-never-forgotten-the-smell-698503 Sunshine Coast Daily: https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/instinct-may-have-saved-hitchhiker-friend/3894761/ News.com: https://www.news.com.au/national/courts-law/grisly-crime-scene-footage-showed-in-court-at-claremont-killings-trial/news-story/dc5435677e5f3fe75a38fcfdb93c5982 7 news: https://7news.com.au/news/claremont-serial-killings-detective-recalls-horror-of-seeing-victims-body-c-635585 9 news: https://www.9news.com.au/national/claremont-trial-serial-killings-detective-bradley-robert-edwards-crime-news-wa/637445cb-8a30-495f-82a1-7bf16688b370 Corowa free press: https://www.corowafreepress.com.au/national/2020/06/15/1233012/claremont-murders-trial-end-inches-closer