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The Claremont killings: The murder mystery that paralysed Perth.

It was the case that paralysed Perth. Three young women vanished from the same affluent suburb within the space of just 14 months; the remains of two later discovered dumped outside the city.

For more than 19 years, 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 48-year-old man named Bradley Robert Edwards was taken into custody and charged with the murder of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon, after officers from the Tactical Response Group stormed his Kewdale home at about 7am on December 22.

The arrest thrust the case back into the headlines, where it has appeared numerous times since the late ’90s, solidifying its place in Australian cold-case folklore.

claremont killer in court
Ciara Glennon and Jane Rimmer. Images: Western Australia Police.

Now almost three years after Bradley Robert Edwards was charged with the Claremont serial killings, his lengthy trial is due to begin this week.

The former Telstra technician and confessed rapist is accused of murdering secretary Sarah Spiers, 18, child care worker Jane Rimmer, 23, and lawyer Ciara Glennon, 27, who were all last seen in the entertainment strip of the affluent suburb in 1996 and 1997.

Shocking details have already emerged during pre-trial hearings, including Edwards' previous conviction for attacking a social worker from behind at Hollywood Hospital, where he was working for Telstra in 1990.

Edwards covered her mouth and tried to drag her into nearby toilets but she broke free.

Cable ties were later found in his pocket and he was sentenced to two years probation for common assault.

Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo has argued Edwards was obsessed with women's undergarments and his crimes escalated over time.

She said the murders correlated with significant moments during the breakdown of his first marriage, but stopped after he met his second wife.

It included his wife's refusal to watch Australia Day fireworks with him hours before Ms Spiers vanished, her revelation she was having a baby with another man shortly before Ms Rimmer was murdered, and the sale of the matrimonial home days before Ms Glennon was killed.

Justice Stephen Hall is presiding over the trial without a jury.

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He previously ruled Edwards' collection of thousands of BDSM images, violent sexual stories describing the abduction of women, and a film called Forced Entry depicting the rape and torture of women were irrelevant.

What were the Claremont killings?

Six months after 18-year-old Sarah Spiers vanished in January 1995, another mystery befell Claremont - the disappearance of childcare worker Jane Rimmer.

The 23-year-old was last seen alive outside Club Bay View in the early hours of June 9, after she reportedly declined a friends' offer to share a cab ride home.

She was due to have lunch with her parents that Sunday, but never arrived.

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

Tragically, the horrific discovery was followed by that of the remains of missing lawyer Ciara Glennon in April 1997, the month after she too disappeared following a night out at the Continental Hotel - the same pub in which Rimmer had been drinking prior to her disappearance.

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

No charges have been laid in relation Spiers' disappearance. A body has never been found. The police investigation is ongoing.

Jane Rimmer was captured talking to an unknown man prior to her disappearance. Image: WA Police

With the discoveries of Glennon and Rimmer's bodies, what had begun as missing person's case, became a suspected serial killing.

The investigation was stepped up, public appeals issued and suspects targeted - one public servant was tailed by police around the clock for several years before being struck off as a person of interest, according to the ABC.

Just last year DNA evidence reportedly linked Glennon's killer to an unknown man who had sexually assaulted a teenage girl in 1995. The 17-year-old had been abducted from a Claremont street and driven to Karrakatta Cemetery where she was raped.

Prior to that, among the key pieces of evidence in the case was CCTV footage, released to the public in 2008, showing a man approaching Jane Rimmer as she waited outside the Continental Hotel on the night of her disappearance.

The Supreme Court trial, to hear from hundreds of witnesses including overseas experts, is scheduled to begin on Monday.

This article was originally published on March 30, 2017 and was updated on November 24, 2019. 

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