SYDNEY (AP) — A man was charged with two counts of murder on Friday in a notorious, 20-year-old case that terrified residents of Western Australia and became one of the country's longest-running investigations.
The development in the so-called "Claremont serial killings" case comes two decades after three women vanished from the wealthy Perth suburb of Claremont in Western Australia. The remains of two of the women — Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon — were later found in remote areas; the third, Sarah Spiers, remains missing.
Over the years, hundreds of police officers tried and failed to crack the case. Authorities offered hefty cash rewards for information, took DNA samples from 2,000 Perth taxi drivers and even recruited a convicted Perth serial killer, David Birnie, for his insight.
Finally, on Friday, police charged 48-year-old Bradley Robert Edwards with murder in the deaths of Rimmer and Glennon, and with the sexual assault of two other young women. Police did not elaborate on what led them to Edwards.
"There is still much work to be done, but this has already been the biggest and most complex investigation in WA (Western Australia) history," Western Australia Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan told reporters in Perth. "These crimes shocked the west Australian public."
Edwards lives in the Perth suburb of Kewdale, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Claremont. Police have accused him of abducting Rimmer, a 23-year-old childcare worker, on June 9, 1996, as she was on her way home from a night out with friends. Police say Edwards abducted Glennon, a 27-year-old lawyer, on March 14, 1997, after she, too, had spent the evening out with her friends.
The investigation into the disappearance of Spiers, an 18-year-old secretary, is ongoing, O'Callaghan said.
Edwards was also charged with abducting a 17-year-old in 1995 as she walked through a Claremont park. The teen was forced into a vehicle and driven to a cemetery, where she was sexually assaulted, O'Callaghan said. Edwards also faces an indecent assault charge after police say he broke into the bedroom of an 18-year-old woman while she slept and attacked her in 1988.
Edwards appeared briefly in Perth Magistrates Court on Friday. He did not enter a plea and will return to court next month.