News in 5: Claremont murder charge; Royals in ‘anthrax scare’; Record puppy litter.

Sarah Spiers

1. 18-year-old Sarah Spiers was last seen on January 26, 1996. Twenty-two years later, a ‘serial killer’ has been charged with her murder.

On the evening of Friday the 26th of January, 1996, 18-year-old Sarah Spiers was celebrating the Australia Day public holiday with friends in the Perth suburb of Claremont.

At 2.06 am, Sarah phoned for a taxi from a phone box at an intersection. Three minutes later, when the taxi pulled up to where she had requested to be picked up, she was gone. Sarah has been missing ever since.

The 18-year-old became the first suspected victim in the so-called Claremont serial killings, after two more women disappeared and were found murdered in the same area under similar circumstances in the space of 14 months.

In 2016, a man named Bradley Robert Edwards was taken into custody and charged with the murder of 23-year-old childcare worker Jane Rimmer and 27-year-old lawyer Ciara Glennon.

Jane’s body was discovered in Wellard in August 1996, while Ciara’s body was found in bushland in Eglington in April 1997. Sarah’s remains have never been found.

Now, police have confirmed they have also charged Bradley Robert Edwards with Sarah’s murder.

“This is a significant development in a long-running and high-profile investigation,” Western Australian Police Commissioner Chris Dawson told reporters, according to AAP.

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He also said the Spiers family did not want to comment during what was a “very traumatic time” for them.

The fear that a serial killer was stalking Claremont streets in the 1990s terrified Perth residents at the time and is believed to be Australia’s longest-running and most expensive police investigation.

Edwards is also charged with abducting and raping a 17-year-old girl in February 1995 in Claremont and indecently assaulting an 18-year-old woman during a break-in at a Huntingdale home in February 1988.

Edwards will appear in court on charges involving five women on February 28.

2. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been caught up in an ‘anthrax scare’ after a threatening letter was sent to their home.

meghan markle prince harry smiling 2018
Image via Instagram.

Engaged royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are at the centre of an anthrax 'scare' after a threatening letter containing white powder was sent to their St James’s Palace residence on February 12.

According to The Guardian, police are treating the letter as a racist hate crime after it was revealed the package also contained a racist note addressed to the 36-year-old mixed race actress.

After being examined by experts, the white powder found in the letter was found to be harmless.

"Officers are investigating an allegation of malicious communications, which relates to the same package, and it is being treated as a racist hate crime," Scotland Yard said in a statement.

"The matter is being investigated by officers from the Met's counter-terrorism command."

Kensington Palace has so far declined to comment on the incident.

Anthrax is an infection that can be 'weaponised' in powder form. In 2001, a number of anthrax attacks occurred in the United States when news media officers and politicians were sent letters containing spores.

As a result, 22 people were infected with the disease, and five people died.

3. One of the top contenders for this year's Best Picture Oscar has been accused of copying a 1969 play.

Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water
Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water. Image via Fox Searchlight Pictures.

A Pulitzer-winning playwright's family is suing director Guillermo Del Toro and Fox Searchlight in a copyright suit, alleging The Shape Of Water "brazenly" copied his story, AAP reports.

The film, which is competing for 13 Oscars, is "in many ways identical" to 1969's Let Me Hear You Whisper by the late Paul Zindel, according to the lawsuit.

Zindel's family sued the studio, the director and others in a California court on Wednesday - as voters considered who to back at the Oscars.

Del Toro and Fox Searchlight denied the allegations about the Golden Globe-winning movie starring British actress Sally Hawkins, AAP reports.

But lawyer Marc Toberoff claimed there are at least 61 similarities, saying they are both 1960s Cold War stories about an unmarried janitor and her relationship with an aquatic creature in a secret laboratory.

"The Shape Of Water, though presented to the public as a highly original work of fantasy/science fiction, in reality, brazenly copies the story, elements, characters, and themes from a work by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Zindel," he added.

Del Toro told industry website Deadline he has not read or seen the play.

"I'd never heard of this play before making The Shape Of Water, and none of my collaborators ever mentioned the play," he added.

Fox Searchlight said it would "vigorously" defend the "ground-breaking and original film".

4. Health authorities are investigating after a student at a Gold Coast school was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

school student homework study exams
Image via Getty.

At least one student at one of the Gold Coast's busiest schools has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports.

Health authorities are now investigating and parents of students who attend Pimpama State Secondary College have been notified.

While confirming the case at the school, the Queensland Health Department believes it is unlikely the deadly disease has been passed onto anyone else at the school, but screenings will be performed at the school in coming weeks.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a bacterial infection that can affect almost any part of the body but most commonly occurs in the lungs. It is spread from person to person.

TB can be serious, even deadly, if not diagnosed and treated early, however it is curable when treated with antibiotics.

5. The world's 25 best beaches have been named... but only one Aussie stretch of sand made the cut.

manly beach
Manly Beach. Image via Getty.

Australia may be famed for its stunning coastline and surf culture, but when it comes to the world's top 25 beaches only one of ours has made the cut.

Beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, South America and Europe seemed to impress travellers most in 2018, as reflected in TripAdvisor's Traveler's Choice Awards, with Sydney's Manly Beach coming in at a lowly number 16.

Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos was voted the world's best beach, followed by Baia do Sancho in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil and Varadero Beach in Varadero, Cuba.

Surprisingly, Bournemouth Beach in southern England even topped Manly's allure.

TripAdvisor also awarded local lists for many parts of the world, with Manly also voted Australia's best beach.

The first beach in Australia to allow daylight swimming in 1903, Manly also hosted the world's earliest surfing championship in 1964. Today the beachside suburb attracts around 2.3 million visitors each year, many arriving by ferry from Circular Quay.

Award winners were determined based on the quantity and quality of traveller reviews and ratings for beaches on TripAdvisor, gathered over a 12-month period. This means lesser known, out of the way beaches are less likely to make the cut.

6. A Perth doggo just gave birth to a record litter of puppers.

record litter of puppies in Australia
Image via West Coast Veterinary Clinic/Facebook.

On Monday afternoon, Doberman mum Sassy became the proud parent to no less than 18 new puppies.

Delivered by c-section at West Coast Vets in Perth, four-year-old Sassy's arrivals are believed to equal the record number of pups born in a single litter in Australia.

According to The West Australian, it took three vets, two vet students, two vet nurses, two work experience people and a receptionist 90 minutes to deliver all 18 puppies safely.

Veterinarian Aaron Raney said the breeder believed Sassy was carrying at least 16 puppies when he brought her to the vet.

"The breeder came in and told us his dog was going to have at least 16 puppies and are we prepared for it," Dr Raney told The West Australian.

"I took it with a grain of salt and thought it might be 10 or 12, but they kept coming. I stopped counting after about 12 because I was concentrating on getting them all out, but the squeaking was non-stop."

The extreme number of pups meant Dr. Raney - who had never delivered a litter so large in his eight years as a veterinarian - had to stray from his normal caesarean section procedure.

"Normally when I do a caesarean I can make one incision but with her I had to make four incisions to get them all out at a quick rate," he said.

"She did really well, some puppies were distressed and not breathing but once we blew some oxygen into them they came good."

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