Did the Claremont Serial Murderer Kill Julie Cutler?
When the Claremont Serial Murderer struck, I was a young woman of 19 years old, out clubbing in Perth every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. I’d be at The Globe or Metropolis, or downstairs at Jeramiah’s. I was young and invincible. It was nothing for me and my mates to get rip roaring drunk and stagger home in the dark. That is until a predator started take girls off the street. Girls my own age… a girl that worked in the next street to the one I worked in.
The alleged Claremont Serial Murderer, Bradley Robert Edwards is currently on trial for the murders of Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon. He has already pleaded guilty to two rapes of two women, one in Huntingdale, the other at Karrakatta Cemetery.
But did he take Julie too? Was she one of his first kills?
Who Was Julie Cutler?
Julie Leanne Cutler was a former student of Iona Presentation College who went on to study English Literature and theatre at the West Australian Institute of Technology (which is now known as Curtin University). She was quiet and studious, with a dimple on her cheek. Julie had lost her mother when she was a young girl. She was close to her father, Roger and her younger half-sister, Nicole. Julie had just returned from an overseas trip before she disappeared.
The Disappearance of Julie Cutler
Julie Cutler was a 22-year-old university student from Fremantle attending a staff awards night at the Parmelia Hilton hotel located in the Perth CBD in June 1988. Julie was working at the hotel at the time as a room attendant and had just finished her shift (6 pm until 10 pm) before changing from her hotel uniform into a black evening gown to attend the awards night which was located in a function room within the hotel called Juliana’s Nightclub.
She was last seen leaving the hotel at 12.30 am. Julie was carrying a plastic bag with her that contained her Parmelia Hilton uniform. Her vehicle was parked in the nearby employees’ carpark. It is believed that Ms Cutler was closely followed out of the hotel by a man and a woman, however, it isn’t known if they are suspects or were just leaving the hotel at the same time as Julie. She was last seen bending over into the passenger side door of her Fiat. She was then known to have returned to the awards night until it finished before returning to her vehicle. The Fiat was last seen turning left from Mill Street onto Mounts Bay Road.
Julie Cutler did not turn up for her shift at the Parmelia Hilton the next day.
On Tuesday 21st June 1988, Julie was reported missing by her family after her roommate, Fiona, had called her family concerned with her welfare when she didn’t return to her Fremantle flat.
The Vehicle Washes Up on Cottesloe Beach
On Wednesday 22nd June, just a few days after Julie disappeared, her vehicle, a four-door, two-tone grey Fiat sedan, was found on its roof 50m off the Cottesloe Beach, halfway between the Groyne and the Cottesloe Surf Club. The vehicle contained no back seat (it later washed up on the beach) and several Parmelia Hilton champagne flutes were found in the car as well as cigarette filters. These filters were from a brand of cigarette that Julie didn’t smoke. The car still had the keys in the ignition and the lights were in the ‘on’ position. Divers and helicopters searched the area but found no trace of Julie.
Superintendent Ron Carey who investigated Julie Cutler’s disappearance stated that:
“If the back seat could wash out why didn’t Julie’s body if she was in the car? Why didn’t her shoes, handbag or some other item of property wash up? I believe she was never in the car when it went off Cottesloe Groyne. I believe that Julie was murdered and that the body was buried or secreted somewhere else before the car was dumped in the ocean.”
Something interesting to note is that Julie’s Fiat had a rear door that could not be locked. It is theorised that someone may have lay in wait in the back seat of Ms Cutler’s vehicle. It also is not easy for the vehicle to end up where it has, Cottesloe Beach has an ocean wall called a ‘Groyne’. Police believe that the vehicle had been in the water since the night of Julie’s disappearance.
Police at the time did not know if they were investigating a suicide, a disappearance or a murder.
Julie’s father made a common on the discovery of the vehicle:
“I can’t understand how a car (like that) can be at Cottesloe and can not be seen when there’s someone there almost 24 hours a day looking at the water.”
Julie’s Personal Items Found
Ms Cutler’s work uniform, a white Parmelia Hilton blouse in size 14, a black skirt and a pair of black pantyhose were located at the King Kebab Takeaway located in Centreway Arcade in Perth, a five-minute walk from where Julie was working. The white blouse was one of only 37 made exclusively for the Parmelia Hilton staff. The kebab shop owner handed in the bag containing a uniform twelve months after the disappearance, not realising that the pile of clothing had any significance. The bag of clothing had been located under a table outside the kebab shop.
Was She Being Hunted?
A few months before Julie Cutler’s disappearance, Julie had called her father Roger to report a frightening incident where she had been driving her Fiat along Stirling Highway towards her home in Fremantle when a car she noticed behind her was following extremely close to her bumper and seemed to be trying to force Julie’s car off the road. The car then pulled alongside Julie and veered in front of her. Ms Cutler swerved around the vehicle and sped away.
She reported the incident to the Police.
In addition to this incident, Julie’s wallet was found in her Fremantle apartment – leaving a question – did Julie actually make it home that night? Julie’s sister Nicole said that there had also been a break-in at Julie’s Fremantle apartment shortly before she went missing.
Possible Evidence Found In the Sand Dunes in 1996
Eight years after Julie’s disappearance, a purse, a diary and other personal items were found in the sand dunes one kilometre south of where her vehicle was found at Cottesloe Beach. The items were found by Cal Redfearn who stuck the items in a box until he saw a report on Crime Stoppers about Ms Cutler’s disappearance in 1996. He handed the box of items to the Police in 1997, but the Police didn’t link the belongings to Julie’s disappearance and it is now believed that those items were destroyed before being forensically tested.
The items were believed to have been a large brown bag, a purse with coins in it, a biro which had ‘Hawaiian’ on it, and a diary. Mr Redfearn said that the diary had nothing in it apart from some squiggles like someone was testing a pen.
Detective Sergeant Gailene Hamilton quoted:
“In October 1996, a member of the public located a number of personal items including a purse and diary in sand dunes about 1km south of where Julie’s car was recovered. These items were handed to Police in early 1997, however, following enquiries with people who knew Julie, they were dismissed as not being hers.”
The Cold Case Homicide Squad reviewed the items and have now established that they ‘may’ have belonged to Julie.
Detective Sergeant Gailene Hamilton quoted:
“Part of the policy is when we look at items, if we don’t link them to current or previous crimes, then as part of the policy the items are either returned to the owner or destroyed.“
On the back of this evidence, in July 2002, Police taped off the dunes just south of The Dutch Inn at Cottesloe and conducted a new forensic dig in the area the items were believed to have been found. No new evidence which may have belonged to the missing woman was found.
Police, however, have kept photographs of the items.
Julie Cutler’s father, Roger strongly believes that someone has information regarding her disappearance. There is a $250,000 reward offered to the person who can solve the mystery of Julie Cutler’s disappearance.
The Claremont Serial Murderer
For a full rundown on the case of the Claremont Serial Murderer, have a look at my previous article.
But for a quick synopsis, Bradley Robert Edwards was arrested as the main suspect in the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon and is the main suspect in the disappearance of Sarah Spiers whose body has never been found.
Sarah Spiers, Ciara Glennon and Jane Rimmer
Sarah Spiers was the first of the three girls to go missing on January 27, 1996. Sarah was a bubbly 18-year-old office worker who attended a night out at the Continental Hotel in Claremont. Allegedly, blood-curdling screams were heard that night in the vicinity of Mosman Park, only 20 minutes after Sarah had disappeared after calling for a taxi. Despite a huge search, no trace of Sarah has ever been found.
Jane Rimmer was a 23-year-old childcare worker who disappeared from Claremont on the 9th June 1996. Again, loud screams were heard in the area of Wellard the night of her abduction. Her body was discovered in bushland at Wellard a month later. A Telstra knife was found nearby.
Ciara Glennan was a 27-year-old Lawyer who vanished on the 14th March 1997 after a night out in Claremont. She left to catch a taxi but was not seen alive again. Her body was found on the 3rd of April 1997.
The Continental Hotel in Claremont
Despite a huge manhunt, DNA testing of Perth taxi drivers and a few suspects that didn’t pan out, Bradley Robert Edwards, 48, a Telstra worker from Kewdale, was arrested in relation to the missing girls in December 2017. He is due to go to trial this year.
It is rumoured that familial DNA like that used in the arrest of the Golden State Killer was also used to identify Edwards.
What Do Julie Cutler and the Claremont Serial Murderer (Allegedly) Have in Common?
Well, the two do have a few things in common – enough to look closer.
These are the commonalities:
- Julie Cutler was known to have visited Claremont with her friends regularly. The Claremont Serial Murderer took three women from Claremont.
- The body of Sarah Spiers has never been found, neither has that of Julie Cutler. However, Bradley Robert Edwards has been charged with Sarah Spiers murder (still to go to trial). Does this mean that Police have located DNA belonging to Sarah in Mr Edward’s case?
- DNA proved that the alleged Claremont Serial Murderer was involved in rape in 1988, the same year that Julie Cutler disappeared. Bradley Robert Edwards has now pleaded guilty to this rape and another committed in 1990 at Hollywood Hospital where he tried to drag a social worker from her desk. The social worker fought back and a security guard at the hospital restrained Edwards until the Police arrived. Bradley Robert Edwards was arrested for this assault and pleaded guilty. So we do know that he was active at this time.
- Bradley Robert Edwards has also been linked to the abduction and rape of a woman in 1995.
- Bradley Robert Edwards started as a Peeping Tom from his home in Huntingdale (in fact he was dubbed The Huntingdale Prowler), and progressed to break and enters, then assaults and rapes. It is alleged that Julie Cutler’s Fremantle residence was broken into before her disappearance.
- Bradley Robert Edwards would have been 19 years old at the time of Julie Cutler’s disappearance, which means he could have his drivers licence. So the age is right.
- A member of the Macro Task Force told Julie Cutler’s father Roger that his daughter was most likely a victim of the Claremont Serial Murderer.
There are still many Perth women who are missing, but no others who have been linked to the Claremont Serial Murderer via the Macro Taskforce like that of Julie Cutler’s disappearance.
Other possible missing women that may or may not be a victim of Bradley Edwards:
- Lisa Brown
- Sarah McMahon
- Kerry Turner
And if Bradley Robert Edwards did not kill Julie Cutler – then there is still a murderer out there that needs to account for his or her actions.
Other Cases – Are They Related?
There are a few possible other cases that may or may not be related. They include:
- A rape and bashing of a woman outside the Sheraton Hotel in the CBD of Perth on May 27, 1988.
- 1992 a woman was raped near the Swanbourne Railway Station.
- 1992 a second woman was raped near the Swanbourne Railway Station
- Attempted abduction of a Sheraton Hotel worker in February 1993.
- A woman driving home from Club Bay View near the Claremont Subway was dragged from her car in 1994.
- 1995 A woman was picked up and assaulted near the Claremont Golf Course.
Other Notes or Question on This Case That Need To Be Mentioned
- A female called a Perth newspaper after the disappearance claiming to be Julie Cutler and stating that she ‘Just wanted to disappear’.
- There was a seven-year gap between Julie Cutler’s disappearance and the first murder attributed to the Claremont Serial Murders.
- The person who dumped Julie Cutler’s Fiat at Cottesloe Beach could only do so in a very limited amount of time due to the tides. If you also know Cottesloe Beach, driving a vehicle off the Groyne would be paramount to insanity.
- The initial prime suspect in Julie’s disappearance was a male university friend who was also a suspect in the Claremont Serial Murders (not Bradley Edwards). However the Police did rule out Julie’s previous boyfriend.
- Cottesloe Beach is a very popular beach in Perth. No matter what time of day or night it was, it would be unusual for no one to witness the vehicle entering the water.
- Why would a killer dispose of the vehicle in water except to hide forensic evidence?
- There are reports that Julie Cutler was planning on going to the Burswood Casino after leaving the Parmelia Hilton.
So What Now?
Now we wait until the trial for Bradley Robert Edwards, in the hope that he will confess to his crimes and he will help Police locate the bodies. It would be some consolation for Roger Cutler and Julie’s sister Nicole if they could have some finality in this case.
The Macro Task Force must have SOMETHING on Julie’s case to link the two – let’s hope it all comes out in the trial.
If you know anything about the disappearance of Julie Cutler, please contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Want to discuss the case anonymously – pop over to our forum
More will be added on this case as the trial approaches.