Australia

Claremont serial killings: what Bradley Edwards said to police when held at gunpoint in connection with the disappearance of three Perth women

The officer who kicked in the door when police arrested Claremont serial killer Bradley Robert Edwards has described the sex addict’s breathtaking reaction when he was finally caught. He calmly asked the officers, “What is this all about?”

Todd Bowler was a member of Western Australia’s Tactical Response Group when he was called in to help arrest Edwards, twenty years after his killing spree began.

Edwards was the main suspect in the deaths of Jane Rimmer, Ciara Glennon and Sarah Spiers when police surrounded his home in Kewdale in Perth’s east on December 22, 2016.

The three young women had all disappeared from Claremont, in the city’s west, between January 1996 and March 1997. Mrs. Spiers’ body was never found.

Mr. Bowler had been a general duty officer when the women went missing and had been driving around Claremont at the time keeping an eye out for suspicious vehicles.

When it came to bringing in former Telstra engineer Edwards for questioning two decades later, Mr Bowler was keen to be involved.

“It was quite quiet when it first came in because it had become so widely known and the detectives didn’t want anything to leak out that they had found a suspect,” he told the Crime Insiders podcast.

According to Mr Bowler, the operation was planned so that Edwards would be taken down without time to resist or evidence contained in his home.

The officer who kicked in the door as police arrested Claremont serial killer Bradley Robert Edwards (above) described the sex addict's calm reaction when he was finally caught.

The officer who kicked in the door as police arrested Claremont serial killer Bradley Robert Edwards (above) described the sex addict’s calm reaction when he was finally caught.

“We had to figure out how to do it quite smoothly and keep all the evidence intact if there was anything left after all these years,” Mr Bowler said.

‘We went out that morning and sat down in the bushes near his house. We sent a security team to inspect the house.”

The security team detected no movement in the home, so police could not determine whether Edwards was inside or not.

“For obvious reasons, commissioners and people high up in law enforcement wanted this man taken out as quickly as possible,” Bowler said.

“Because it would be a bad thing to have a known serial killer walking around on the streets. So at some point we had to make a decision.”

Since no trace of Edwards had been seen since dawn, it was decided that the best way to pinpoint the killer’s location was to see if he could be lured out.

“We eventually came up with a plan where we sent an undercover security agent to his house, knocked on the door, and Bradley Edwards answered the door,” Bowler said.

Bradley Edwards was the prime suspect in the deaths of Jane Rimmer, Ciara Glennon (above) and Sarah Spiers when police surrounded his home in Perth's east on December 22, 2016.

Bradley Edwards was the prime suspect in the deaths of Jane Rimmer, Ciara Glennon (above) and Sarah Spiers when police surrounded his home in Perth’s east on December 22, 2016

“The secret guy actually said, ‘I just saw some kids messing around with the car in the front. You might want to take a look at it.’

‘Bradley Edwards said, “Yeah, thanks for the warning,” went outside, checked his car doors and everything, and went back inside.

“Within a few minutes we had our team in order and we came in.”

It was Mr. Bowler’s job to enter the building through the front door.

“I hit the front door,” he said. “The front door went like a living room door.

‘The top half was broken open and the bottom half remained. It was an old wooden door, so it just turned. So I ended up dismantling it into small pieces of wood.

“We got through it pretty quickly and then held him at gunpoint in the hallway, right through the front door.”

Mr Bowler said that by the time Edwards found out that police had stormed the house “he was lying on the floor on the carpet in the hallway and tied up face down.”

Retired police officer Todd Bowler said the operation to arrest Edwards was planned so that he would not have time to resist or destroy evidence that might be in his home (above).

Retired officer Todd Bowler said the operation to arrest Edwards was planned so he would not have time to resist or destroy any evidence that might be in his home (above)

So far, everything was going according to plan, as other officers entered through the back and searched every room in the house.

Mr Bowler said most offenders were “not very lippy” when TRG members pointed firearms at them, but sometimes they “get brave again” once they are away.

Edwards’ reaction, especially for someone who had never been arrested at gunpoint, was unlike anything Mr. Bowler had seen before.

“He sat on the carpet for probably four or five minutes while we stood over him with guns, just to make sure he didn’t do anything,” Bowler told the podcast.

‘And then he just stuck his head up and said, ‘So what’s this all about?’

“We just told him, ‘Buddy, the detectives will be here soon. Just stay quiet, they’ll talk to you when they get there.’

“He said, ‘That’s fine,’ and put his head back on the carpet.”

Mr Bowler said Edwards’ heart rate did not appear to exceed 50 beats per minute.

“He was just very calm and very peculiar in that way,” he told the podcast.

Todd Bowler (above) was a member of Western Australia's Tactical Response Group when he was called to participate in Edwards' arrest, 20 years after his killing spree began.

Todd Bowler (above) was a member of Western Australia’s Tactical Response Group when he was called upon to help arrest Edwards, twenty years after his killing spree began

Edwards was charged the following day with the murders of Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon. He was charged with the murder of Ms Spiers in February 2018.

In October 2019, he pleaded guilty to five other charges relating to sexual assaults on an 18-year-old woman in Huntingdale in 1988 and a 17-year-old at Karrakatta Cemetery in 1995.

In June 2020, after a seven-month trial, Judge Stephen Hill found Edwards guilty of the murders of Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon, but not guilty of the murder of Ms Spiers.

According to Judge Hill, it was highly likely that Edwards also murdered Ms Spiers. In December 2020, he sentenced him to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 40 years.

Mr Bowler, who left the force shortly after helping to arrest Edwards, said it had been satisfying to end his service by arresting the Claremont serial killer.

“I’d be surprised if anyone would ever want to parole him, because you’d have to put your name on that person,” he said. “So I don’t think he’ll be gone.”

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