Perth, Western Australia is a beautiful city, more like a big country town than a capital city.
It is also the most remote city in the world. Perth has become the womb of the most number of serial killers per capita than anywhere else in Australia (In saying that, Adelaide in South Australia is hot on its heels!). What is it about this particular part of the country that seems to produce pure evil on such a big scale?
It is estimated that up to 20 Perth women have been reported missing, presumed dead, since 1980.
Imprisoned waiting for a court date, is Bradley Robert Edwards, charged with the Claremont Serial Killings of three young Perth women, and the rape of another woman in a cemetery.
This will be one of the biggest serial killer cases in Australian living history. And certainly the MOST expensive. The case goes to trial in July.
The alleged Claremont Serial Killer, Bradley Robert Edwards
Sadly, there are still a huge amount of unsolved murders in Perth and surrounds which speaks that there are still serial killers on the prowl, that have never been called to justice.
But Why Perth?
Is it the remoteness of the city?
It it because Perth is such a large ‘country town’ that predators feel comfortable that they can find unsuspecting victims?
Is it because people are generally ‘good’, and see only the best in others…. putting trust in the wrong people?
Is it something in the water?
The victims of the Margaret River Murders – a Family Annihilation
The Numbers Don’t Lie
On studying the forensic statistics for Family Annihilators recently, I came across some really scary numbers that seem to tell us exactly why Perth is producing more killers than anywhere else.
- 55% are aged in their 30’s
Well Perth is a hotbed of men in their 30’s due to the mining industry.
- They usually have a high profile or high paying job
Again – the mining industry. People flock from all over the world to mine in Western Australia
- Geological isolation is a key factor in most family annihilator stories.
Perth is the most isolated city in the world.
Plus if we compare the statistics above with the United States, the state in which America has the most serial killers is Alaska. Alaska and Western Australia (apart from the weather) have a lot of striking similarities.
- Size and Isolation
- Abundance of wilderness which provides seclusion
- Seclusion means east of disposal of bodies.
- Large distances between towns (means increased numbers of hitchhikers)
- High number of male-oriented remote workers
- Harsh environmental factors.
Seclusion provides opportunity and when opportunity knocks, the bad eggs take advantage of the situation.
Bradley Robert Edwards is accused of being the Claremont Serial Killer. He was a Telstra worker.
Preferred Occupations of Serial Killers
The following are the jobs that most serial killers seem to fall into:
- Aircraft Machinist/Assembler
- Police Officer
- Automobile Upholsterer
- Forestry Worker or Arboriswt
- Truck Driver
- Religious Official
- Warehouse Manager
- General Labourer
- Hotel Porter
- Petrol Station Attendant
Most Notorious Western Australian Serial Killers
1. Eric Edgar Cooke
Also known as the “night caller”, Cooke murdered eight and attempted to murder another 14 people between 1959 and 1963. From Victoria Park, a suburb on the southern side of the river in Perth, Cooke was born into a violent and abusive family. After continuous beatings and abuse, Cooke was placed in orphanages and foster homes. Cooke was diagnosed with brain damage at a young age and also had a cleft lip making him mumble and a victim of bullying.
Cooke was caught stealing and being a “peeping tom” multiple times. After doing jail time, he came out more malicious and began committing murders. He murdered 8 in total through his victims were all completely different making it extremely hard to pinpoint where he was going to strike next.
His killings were either shootings, strangling, and stabbings, each murder was slightly different with different knives, guns and using scissors and even an axe to kill his victims. He raped a corpse after strangling them and dragging them into the neighbour’s yard and sexually abuse them with a whiskey bottle. It wasn’t until police found a gun that traced back to Cooke. As soon as the police interrogated him, he confessed to numerous murders and other related crimes.
Cooke was the last man hung in Western Australia in 1963.
He is buried in Fremantle Cemetery in an unmarked grave. Also buried with Eric Cooke, is child-murderer, Martha Rendall who was the last woman hanged in Western Australia.
2. David & Catherine Birnie
Also known as the Moorhouse murderers, the couple murdered four women in their home in a Perth suburb called Willagee in 1986. David came from an abusive family, was known for coming from a strange family with rumors of incest. He started committing crimes at a young age and attempted rape with elderly women in his late teens. He had a daughter before he met Catherine, who had nothing to do with her father after she was 10. Catherine also had children before meeting David, 4 sons and 3 daughters whom she left while they were all young to be with David. She was known as having bad behaviour, giving sexual favours to taxi drivers and used a lot of profanity. The pair once together spent longer than a year planning and practising out their sexual fantasies which consisted of rape and murder.
The murders occurred over a span of five weeks, the youngest victim only 15. Each victim was abducted, tied to the bed with chains and ropes, gagged and raped then murdered. Most of the victims were strangled to death by Catherine after David raped them. Their fifth victim was the only one to escape and survive. She reported she was made to dance for the couple and chained to David while they slept. She was raped multiple times whilst chained to the bed. One morning, Catherine forgot to chain the victim to the bed and David had gone to work. The victim broke through a window, made it to a store and the police were called. The couple were sentenced not long after.
David Birnie died in prison in 2005. Catherine Birnie still resides in Bandyup Women’s Prison, unlikely to ever be released.
3. The Claremont Serial Killer Case
Victims: 3 (maybe more) – I suspect Julie Cutler was one of his too…..
The Claremont Serial Killings changed the face of Perth forever. It took away any innocence that remained in the Western Australian capital……
Bradley Robert Edwards was arrested in December 2016 and has been charged with the murders of three women. Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon. He has pleaded not guilty. The case goes to court in July 2019.
Sarah Spiers was only 18 when on the 26th January 1996, she left the Continental Hotel in Claremont to call a taxi for a lift home. Only three minutes later, the taxi arrived, and Sarah was gone. Despite a massive search, Sarah has never been found.
On the 9th June 1996, Jane Rimmer left the Continental Hotel. Video images of her outside the club show her smiling to a man (whose back was to the camera) – in what looks like recognition. She remained on the video outside the club for a few more minutes before disappearing. Her naked body was found in Wellard in August 1996. It is alleged her throat was cut.
The case became a nationwide investigation. At first, it was thought that the murderer may be a taxi driver and all drivers were DNA tested. The people of Claremont stopped using the taxis in fear of being in danger. There were multiple suspects over the years, though it wasn’t until 2016 that a man was finally arrested, Kewdale man, Bradley Robert Edwards.
His DNA also allegedly matches a violent rape at the Karracutta Cemetery before the murders began. It is thought the man, originally from Huntingdale, might have started out as a peeping tom, and progressed to break and enters, then rapes and violent assaults. The murders occurred after the end of Mr Edwards first marriage and ended before he married his second wife.
It will be interesting to see how the case pans out when it goes to court later this year.
What is particularly frightening about Bradley Robert Edwards is that he is the step-father of a young daughter, and was on the board of the Belmont Little Athletics Group.
The three women murdered by the alleged Claremont Serial Killer. Sarah Spiers, Ciara Glennon and Jane Rimmer.
Alleged Claremont Serial Killer, Bradley Robert Edwards
4. Martha Rendell
Martha Rendell was a pure evil stepmother. She was convicted of murdering her stepson in 1908, and her two stepdaughters by swabbing their throats with hydrochloric acid. The three children died in a slow and horrific way, and Martha delighted in the fact.
Martha moved in Thomas Morris who had separated from his wife. Thomas had custody of his four of his nine children, Arthur, Annie, Olive and George. Martha had fed the eldest child, Arthur, with food laced with the acid. When he came down with a sore throat, she applied ‘medicine’ to his throat, making him worse.
Doctors treating the children put the deaths down to ‘diphtheria’. When a neighbour peeked into Martha’s window on hearing the children screaming in pain, he reported to the police that Martha appeared to be ‘in heaven’ at the sight of the children crying in pain.
Both Thomas and Martha were initially charged with the murders of the three children, however, Thomas was later acquitted. She was hung and is buried in Fremantle Cemetery with Eric Edgar Cooke in an unmarked grave.
Her last words before her hanging were ‘I will die brave’.
Family Annihilators in Western Australia
Although family annihilators are now classed as serial killings, they still murdered multiple people. Perth has had more than its fair share. Here are some of the most notorious:
Ellenbrook Triple Murders – Victims: 3
A mother and her two children were killed in Brixton Crescent in Ellenbrook in 2018. An older son was charged with the offences.
Greenough Family Massacre – Victims: 4
Karen MacKenzie and her three children were killed at their remote rural property in Greenough, Western Australia in February 1993. The murders, carried out by an axe, were committed by a friend of the family, William Patrick Mitchell.
Osmington Shooting – Victims: 7
A murder suicide, three adults and four children were shot by their Grandfather at their home in Osmington in May 2018.
Bedford Murders – Victims 5
In September 2018 five people were found murdered in their Bedford home.
List of Missing Women in Perth:
1. Julie Cutler, 22
It is speculated that Julie Cutler could possibly be the first victim of the Claremont Serial Killings. Julie was last seen at 12.30am leaving the Parmelia Hilton Hotel after a staff function. Her car, a Fiat Sedan was found two days later in the surf at Cottesloe Beach. Weeks before her disappearance, she had rung her father upset after someone had followed her home from work for several kilometres, almost touching her back bumper bar. She thought perhaps the person following her was trying to run her off the road.
No trace of Julie has ever been found.
2. Sarah Spiers, 18
Sarah Spiers was a young bubbly girl that had a great job and was close to her family. After a night out in Claremont in January 1996, Sarah called a taxi to go home. When the taxi arrived a few minutes later, she was gone. She was never seen again. No case affected Perth as much as the disappearance of Sarah. When another two girls went missing, Perth knew they had a serial killer on the loose.
It is hoped that the Claremont Serial Murder case will shed light on what happened to Sarah and give her family some peace.
UPDATE: Bradley Robert Edwards has just been charged with the murder of Sarah Spiers. Her body has still not been located.
3. Lisa Marie Mott, 12
Lisa was a young child that went missing from the rural town of Collie in October of 1980. She was to be picked up by a family friend after a basketball game, however, she could not be found. Witnesses say she was last seen speaking to a person in a yellow panel van at 8.30pm in Forrest Street after the game.
It is believed that David Birnie was working in Bunbury (near Collie) at the time of Lisa’s disappearance although David Birnie denied any involvement.
4. Cheryl Renwick, 33
Cheryl went missing some time between Sunday, May 25th and Monday, May 26th 1986. Her car was found at Perth Airport, speculating that she had gone a secret holiday without telling her family. Police checks revealed Cheryl had not left on a flight and none of her clothing was missing from her South Perth unit. Friends and family suspect Cheryl Renwick may have been a victim of David and Catherine Birnie.
5. Lisa Jane Brown, 19
Lisa Brown was slim 19 year old with sandy blonde hair. Lisa has been missing since November 1998. She was last seen on the 10th November 1998 in Palmerston Street, Perth. Lisa was working as a prostitute at the time and was last seen with two men. She has not been seen since. Lisa had two young children and a partner, she has not touched her bank account since.
It is unfortunate that in the past, prostitutes weren’t considered ‘newsworthy’ when they went missing. Her family and friends are hoping that maybe the Claremont Serial Murder case may shed light on what happened to young Mum, Lisa.
How did these serial killings affect you?