true crime

"Why me?" After more than two years, we've finally heard from the accused Claremont killer.

It was the case that paralysed Perth. Three young women — Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon — vanished from the same affluent suburb between 1996 and 1997, with the remains of the latter two later discovered dumped outside the city.

For more than two decades, police have been on the hunt for the person responsible for the so-called ‘Claremont killings’, in what has become one of the longest-running and most expensive police investigations in Australian history.

Then, in late 2016, a breakthrough.

A then-48-year-old man named Bradley Robert Edwards was taken into custody and charged with murdering the three women, after officers from the Tactical Response Group stormed his Kewdale home at about 7:30am on December 22.

Footage of that raid was played in court this week, as part of final arguments in Edwards’ epic, five-month trial in the Supreme Court of Western Australia. It’s one of the few times the public has heard his voice since his arrest.

What were the Claremont killings?

The disappearances of three women from the same entertainment district have become engrained in Australian cold case folklore.

It all started with Sarah Spiers.

The 18-year-old secretary vanished shortly after 2 a.m. on January 27, 1996, following a night out with friends at Club Bayview in downtown Claremont.

Then, six months later, another mystery befell the region, when childcare worker Jane Rimmer failed to show up for lunch at her parents home on Sunday, June 9. The 23-year-old was last seen outside the Continental Hotel in the early hours of that morning, after hopping between three local venues with friends.

Her naked body was discovered a month later in bushland at Wellard, south of Perth.

claremont-cctv
Jane Rimmer was captured talking to a man prior to her disappearance. Image: WA Police

Tragically, the horrific discovery was followed by that of the semi-clothed remains of missing lawyer Ciara Glennon in April 1997, the month after she too disappeared following a night out at the Continental Hotel.

ADVERTISEMENT

Glennon's semi-clothed body was found in bushland at Eglington in the city's north.

Spiers' remains have never been found.

"You've got to be joking." Edward's arrest.

Cuffed and sitting on the floor in his Kewdale house on the morning of his arrest, Edwards exclaimed "what the f***" after detectives told him he was suspected of murdering Spiers, Rimmer and Glennon.

According to police footage played in court this week, he used the same expletive when told he was also suspected of abducting a teenager from a Claremont park and raping her at nearby Karrakatta Cemetery in 1995.

Edwards asked "who?" when further accused of breaking into a Huntingdale home and indecently assaulting a sleeping woman in 1988.

"You've got to be joking," he said as detectives read his rights.

"My head is spinning.

"I understand. I'm just trying to process what's going on."

When prompted to ask questions, he said: "Why me? I'm innocent."

Edwards ultimately admitted to the Karrakatta rape and the Huntingdale assault in October, the month before his trial started.

However, he continues to deny all three murder charges.

The interrogation and trial.

The trial began in the Western Australian Supreme Court on November 24, 2019, before Justice Stephen Hall.

Following 85 days in court and more than 200 witnesses, the prosecution and defence closed their cases this week, after Edwards chose not to take the stand.

The state's final witness Detective Senior Sergeant Joseph Marrapodi finished giving his evidence and taking the court through video of Edwards' police interview following his 2016 arrest.

The interview, which took place on and off over 14 hours, shows Edwards repeating denying any involvement in the crimes, including the rape and assault to which he later confessed.

Edwards was repeatedly asked if he wanted a lawyer but declined.

"I don't know what to do," he said.

"I just want to go to sleep and wake up and this will be all a bad dream.

"What you've accused me of, they're obviously serious things.

"I'm innocent — I don't know why you're accusing me of them."

Bradley Edwards in court. Via AAP.
ADVERTISEMENT

The prosecution alleges that DNA on a kimono Edwards left behind at the Huntingdale house matched DNA found underneath murdered woman Ciara Glennon's fingernails, which partly broke off as she fought her attacker.

Edwards' cheek was swabbed during the interview and he was warned when the pathology laboratory returned its findings hours later.

"Brace yourself, Bradley — I have some results here," Det Snr Sgt Joseph Marrapodi said in the video. "Your DNA sample was a positive result."

There were long stretches of silence in between Edwards breathing deeply as he held his head in his hand.

"How can that be? I don't understand that," he said. "I didn't do any of this."

The detective then asked him to explain how his DNA came to be on the rape victim, to which he replied, "How can I explain it? You're assuming I've done it."

The ex-Little Athletics coach was then shown a photograph of Glennon and told the same DNA had been recovered from her body, which was dumped in bushland.

"What happened Bradley?" the detective asked.

"I don't know. I wish I could explain it and say I was wherever," Edwards replied.

The state also alleges that fibres from Edwards' work trousers and Telstra-issued car were found on the rape victim, Rimmer and Glennon.

The defence team has argued the evidence could have been contaminated.

What next?

The trial is now adjourned until June 8, when oral submissions will begin, followed by closing addresses.

Justice Hall is then expected to take several months to deliver his verdict.

— With AAP.

This article was originally published on March 30, 2017, and was updated on May 6, 2020. 

Featured Images: AAP.

00:00 / ???