TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains depictions of real-life murder and sexual assault and may be triggering to some readers.
It was the case that shocked Australia in the late 1990s – a serial killer on the loose in Perth.
On September 24, 2020, Bradley Robert Edwards was convicted of murdering two young women who vanished almost 25 years ago.
In the notorious case known as the Claremont serial killings, Edwards was charged with “wilfully murdering” Jane Rimmer, 23, and Ciara Glennon, 27 in 1996 and 1997.
Edwards was acquitted of a third murder — Sarah Spiers who was the first woman to vanish at the time, however, her body was never found. He was acquitted of the charge because it could not be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” as there was not sufficient evidence.
Who was the Claremont Killer?
Before being arrested on two murder charges, Edwards was a Telstra technician from Western Australia.
According to The Guardian, Edwards had a history of violence during “emotionally distressing times”. At the age of 21, he grabbed and tried to force a dishcloth into the mouth of a 40-year-old social worker while working as a Telecom technician at Hollywood Hospital. At the time, his de-facto partner had confessed to cheating on him.
Criminal psychologist Xanthe Mallet told A Current Affair that killing was all “about power and control”. “He’s predatory… he’s cold… he’s calculated… it’s premeditated.”
What did he do?
In January 1996, 18-year-old Sarah Spiers vanished, and although, as Justice Hall said during his trial that “the propensity evidence makes it more likely that the accused was the killer,” her body has never been found.
In June 1996, Rimmer was grabbed off a Claremont Street and then, nine months later, Glennon vanished. Both bodies of the two women were found dumped in bushland at opposite ends of Perth.
According to reports from his court case, Edwards had driven both women to separate remote areas of bushland on Perth’s fringe. There was a violent struggle before he slashed their necks and covered their bodies in vegetation.
According to key witness testimonials, several people saw a man matching Edwards’ description driving a Telstra vehicle around Claremont offering lifts to women in the mid-1990s. Some heard high-pitched screams in the Mosman Park area that night that Spiers vanished, with a car nearby similar to the description of Edwards’ own car.
In 2008, DNA tests were undertaken on the bodies. Edwards’ DNA was found under Glennon’s left thumb and middle finger. At his trial, he admitted to it being his but denied knowing how it got there.
Edwards was also charged for indecently assaulting an 18-year-old woman in 1988 and abducting and raping a 17-year-old girl in February 1995.
What was found at his home?
According to News.com.au, “extreme pornography, women’s underwear with holes cut in them, deposits in sandwich bags, bizarre homemade sex toys, and disturbing scenarios to abduct, rape and kill” were found inside a lockup garage at Edwards’ home after his arrest. The evidence was so “disturbing” that it was ruled “too prejudicial” for his trial.
At his pre-trial hearing, it was also found that Edwards was sexually aroused by wearing women’s clothing. He had his own personal collection, which escalated into a fetish and obsession with rape and abduction.
State prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo said Edwards was “a socially awkward teenager with a fetish for wearing — and stealing — women’s underwear,” however, as he grew older, evolved into an “obsessive sexual interest in the abduction, imprisonment and forcible rape of women”.
In December 2016, Edwards was arrested and subjected to 12-hour police interview. Over 20 years had passed since the women had died.
Before his trial, Edwards confessed and pleaded guilty to abducting and raping the 17-year-old. According to his statement, he bound and drove her to Karrakatta cemetery before raping her twice and leaving her naked in bushland. He also confessed to assaulting the 18-year-old woman in 1988.
Edwards’ “judge only” court case ran from November 2019 to June 2020 in the Western Australian supreme court.
During the trial, several pieces of evidence were used against him.
At the time of her assault, the 17-year-old had given DNA evidence. Fibres from his Telstra uniform were also found on her body as well as on both the bodies of Rimmer and Glennon and fibres were found on their hair which matched that of his 1996 VS Holden Commodore, the car Edwards drove at the time.
On September 24, 2020, Edwards was charged with two counts of murder, however, is yet to be charged for the other two attacks.
At the time, WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said that they would continue to search for Spiers.
“Sarah and her family deserve justice,” he said, before adding: “Three innocent young women were killed, along with the hopes and dreams they never got to fulfil.
“Bradley Edwards can now be called for what he is — a brutal rapist and a murderer.”
He is still yet to be charged for the other two attacks.
Bradley Robert Edwards is the subject of Channel 9’s Claremont: Catching a Killer, premiering at 9.40 pm on October 28.