Evolution of the Claremont serial killer

 

A teenage fetish for women's lingerie escalated to Bradley Robert Edwards prowling the streets, savagely raping a girl in a cemetery and finally two horrific murders that changed Perth forever.

The former Telstra technician managed to avoid suspicion for decades.

He married twice, meeting one of his wives on April Fools' Day, and became a doting stepfather.

But eventually the scientific evidence, including DNA and fibres, led to his undoing and police were finally able to swoop.

After an epic seven-month-long trial, Edwards was this week found guilty of murdering childcare worker Jane Rimmer, 23, and solicitor Ciara Glennon, 27, in 1996 and 1997.

But he was acquitted of killing secretary Sarah Spiers, 18, who vanished first in 1996 and has never been found.

The mystery of the Claremont serial killer had long hung over Perth, instilling fear among young women in particular.

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson this week described Edwards as an "evil murderer and rapist" who unleashed a "decade of terror" as the Claremont killer.

But his crimes began years earlier and escalated over time.

 

Bradley Robert Edwards’ crimes escalated over time. Source: Supplied by the WA Supreme Court
Bradley Robert Edwards’ crimes escalated over time. Source: Supplied by the WA Supreme Court

In 1988, there were a series of "prowler" incidents in the Huntingdale area, within a 1km radius of Edwards' home, with reports of women's garments stolen from clotheslines.

During an attack, which Edwards has admitted, he broke into a home, closed the door to an 18-year-old woman's parents' bedroom, unplugged the telephone, then straddled her back and covered her mouth.

The young woman struggled and Edwards ran away - but he left behind a pair of stockings and a semen-stained silk kimono.

That kimono would later prove to be a vital piece of evidence to catch him.

During a separate break-in, Edwards also left behind his fingerprints on a sliding door, but they were not matched to him until decades later, which also helped lead to his arrest.

 

Bradley Robert Edwards, from Kewdale, faced eight charges, including the murders of Jane Rimmer in 1996 and Ciara Glennon in 1997.
Bradley Robert Edwards, from Kewdale, faced eight charges, including the murders of Jane Rimmer in 1996 and Ciara Glennon in 1997.

In 1990, Edwards was working for Telstra at Hollywood Hospital when he attacked a social worker from behind.

Edwards covered the woman's mouth and tried to drag her into nearby toilets, but she broke free.

Cable ties were found in his pocket, he apologised to the woman and was sentenced at the time to two years' probation.

Defence counsel Paul Yovich told the court Edwards "took exception to a somewhat curt comment", which triggered the assault.

 

Edwards was acquitted of murdering Sarah Spiers, whose body has never been found. Picture: AAP Image/Supplied by The West Australian
Edwards was acquitted of murdering Sarah Spiers, whose body has never been found. Picture: AAP Image/Supplied by The West Australian

Edwards had also pleaded guilty to attacking a 17-year-old girl he abducted from Rowe Park, in Claremont, in 1995.

The girl was grabbed from behind, pushed to the ground, had her hands bound with a cord and fabric forced into her mouth.

She was driven to Karrakatta cemetery where she was dragged through the dark area, then raped twice.

In her statement, the victim said she thought she was going to die, although he did not directly threaten her.

"I kept my eyes shut - I thought it would be better if he thought I couldn't see him," she said.

"I thought at the end of it all that he was going to kill me."

The girl made her way to nearby Hollywood Hospital after the brutal attack and Edwards' DNA was recovered from her. It was another vital piece of evidence.

 

Edwards was convicted of murdering Jane Rimmer. Picture: AAP Image/Supplied by The West Australian
Edwards was convicted of murdering Jane Rimmer. Picture: AAP Image/Supplied by The West Australian

Then came the shocking murders that rattled Perth.

Ms Rimmer, who was described as bubbly and sweet, had been at the Continental Hotel with friends in June 1996.

But she did not leave with them, saying she wanted to stay out a bit longer, and was last captured on CCTV outside the venue.

Her naked and decomposing body was found dumped in bushland in semirural Wellard.

It happened after a rooster ran in front of a car, prompting a family to stop so the children could chase after it and the mother could pick death lilies.

"I felt on the back of my leg it was a stick, but it was a foot," Tammy Van Raalte-Evans testified.

Ms Rimmer had suffered a defensive wound to her wrist and her throat was slashed with a sharp object.

 

Edwards was found guilty of murdering Ciara Glennon.
Edwards was found guilty of murdering Ciara Glennon.

Ms Glennon had only recently returned to Perth after being overseas and was preparing to be a bridesmaid at her sister's wedding.

She was described as strong in spirit and courageous.

Ms Glennon had "ummed and ahhed" about going out with colleagues that night in March 1997.

She was last seen walking down Stirling Highway, with a group of men referred to as "the burger boys" among the final few to see her alive.

A man searching for cannabis plants almost one month later made the grim discovery of her body dumped in semirural Eglinton.

Ms Glennon had a defensive wound to her arm and was also slashed to the neck.

Importantly, she managed to claw at her attacker and Edwards' DNA was recovered from her nails.

Then suddenly, the murders stopped.

Decades later, police were finally able to piece all of the evidence to charge Edwards.

During a raid of his home in December 2016, police allegedly discovered a box containing homemade sex toys and women's underwear, which had holes cut out.

Edwards also allegedly kept violent erotica stories detailing the abduction of women, depraved porn, and a film called Forced Entry depicting the rape and torture of young women.

All of those items were ultimately deemed irrelevant to the triple murder trial, but by then, the shocking revelations about Edwards' secret life had been publicly exposed.

After the verdict was handed down, the Rimmer family released a statement saying they were pleased to finally have "some answers about the abduction and horrendous murder of our beloved Jane".

"Jane had her whole life ahead of her and it is almost beyond comprehension this could have ended in such horrific, heinous circumstances," they said.

"Our family can now take some comfort today and the healing process can begin."

Ms Glennon's father, Denis, revealed on Friday that he had made a graveside promise to pursue justice for his daughter or "die trying".

"That promise, that commitment to Ciara, has driven me unwaveringly and unapologetically," he said.

But Mr Glennon said his family would not provide victim impact statements for Edwards' sentencing hearing in the WA Supreme Court on December 23.

"As a family, we will not allow ourselves to be prisoners of the past," he said.

For the Spiers family, they still have no closure.

"The propensity evidence makes it more likely that the accused was the killer of Ms Spiers, but it cannot prove it beyond reasonable doubt," Justice Stephen Hall said, as he delivered his verdict.

Premier Mark McGowan has pleaded with Edwards to reveal where Ms Spiers' remains are, if he knows.

Mr Dawson said police were planning to question Edwards again about Ms Spiers' disappearance.

 

Originally published as Evolution of the Claremont serial killer


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