The Claremont Serial Killer Stole Our Freedom

01/11/2017 07:21 am ET Updated Jan 11, 2017

On December 23, Bradley Robert Edwards was charged with the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon in the infamous Claremont Serial Killer case. The investigation which has been ongoing for two decades finally concluded and no-one could be more relieved than me.

I’m a Perth girl, born and bred.

I was 19 when Sarah Spiers went missing. It was ‘Australia Day weekend 1996’ and Ms. Spiers had been partying in Claremont (like myself and my friends) before disappearing from a street corner after leaving Club Bayview.

Sarah was a year younger than me and to think she could vanish without a trace, from a high-class area that my friends and I frequented was incomprehensible.

Little did I know, that this was only the beginning of the nightmare.

Forensic Police search for clues, where Ciara Glennon’s body was found.
Forensic Police search for clues, where Ciara Glennon’s body was found.

Months later, Jane Rimmer (23) would disappear outside The Continental Hotel, (known to locals as ‘The Conti’). Her body would later be found in bushland.

And Ciara Glennon (27) would disappear from Claremont the following year. Her partly-clothed corpse, discovered in scrub, north of Perth.

The Claremont serial killer is not only a murderer -- he’s a thief. He stole the freedom from every young woman living in Perth in the mid-late 90’s. The disappearance of Sarah and the murders of Jane and Ciara -- cast a dark cloud in the skies of my sunny hometown.

Unable to be immature and carefree. Young women were forced to be hesitant, untrusting and wise beyond our years. We double-guessed every social situation. We wondered if the guy that was chatting us up at the bar was the Perth serial killer.

Perth taxis (up until that point) were considered a ‘safe space’ for women who had drunk too much after a night out. But now we couldn’t feel safe hailing a cab because it was believed the ‘Claremont Serial Killer’ was possibly a taxi driver.

My late parents were continuously worried about me during this time. I would ring them in the early hours of the morning after stumbling out of a nightclub and they would leave their warm bed to come and pick me up.

Continental Hotel. Claremont.  The late 90’s.
Continental Hotel. Claremont. The late 90’s.

I remember getting into a taxi in East Fremantle not long after Jane’s body was found. I made the driver stop and let me out due to a weird vibe. Was he really giving out a weird vibe? Or had young women like myself become over-paranoid in fear that we could be next?

When the murders came to a screeching halt. All kinds of rumors circulated on the Perth grapevine. Had the serial killer died? Moved overseas? Or was he doing time in jail for another crime?

And how about the parents and extended families of these girls? How were they coping without any answers? Would they get closure in their lifetimes?

Let’s spare a thought for the ‘innocent men’ who were watched around-the-clock and named publicly on television as suspects. How did being labelled ‘a possible suspect’ in the ‘Claremont Serial Killer Investigation’ affect their relationships and life over the next two decades?

Bradley Robert Edwards, 48 (pictured) has been charged with the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon.
Bradley Robert Edwards, 48 (pictured) has been charged with the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon.

When I saw photos of Bradley Robert Edwards and read about his life, I was shocked. He didn’t look like a serial killer.

Nor did his successful life as an electrical engineer, community volunteer and ex-president of a Little Athletics Club associate with my stereotype of what a serial killer’s life would look like.

It prompted me to remember what Tom Meagher had written about Adrian Bayley in his unforgettable piece for White Ribbon: The Danger of The Monster Myth.

Tom states:

“I had formed an image that this man was not human, that he existed as a singular force of pure evil who somehow emerged from the ether. Something about his ability to weave together nouns, verbs and pronouns to form real, intelligible sentences forced a re-focus, one that required a look at the spectrum of men’s violence against women, and its relation to Bayley and the society from which he came.”

Bradley Robert Edwards is due to reappear in court on Jan 25.

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Vanessa de Largie is an actress, author, freelance journalist and sex-columnist.

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