The Devil's Playground- The Claremont Serial Killings by Debi Marshall
Video of the mystery man. The last person to see Jane Rimmer alive
An inept police force unable to stop a killer
This book is a literary documentary by investigative journalist Debi Marshall into the Claremont Serial Killings Police Investigation in Perth in Western Australia. To this day the killings which occurred in 1995/6 have never been solved.
In 1995 three girls went missing in the wealthy, fairly serene and innocent, leafy outer western suburb of Perth, Claremont. Sarah Spiers, 18, went missing on 26 January 1996.On 9 June 1996, Jane Rimmer, 23 went missing and was found dead at Woolcott Road at Wellard on August 1996, she was a child care worker.
Her body was found on 3 April, near a track in scrub off Pipidinny Road in Eglinton, a northern suburb of Perth.All spent a Friday or Saturday evening at both the Claremont Hotel and Club Bayview a nightclub close by. On 14 March 1997, Ciara Glennon, a 27-year-old lawyer went missing.They later left on their own nobody saw anything suspicious.
A twist though is that CCTV in club Bayview picked up Jane Rimmer talking to a mystery man who has never been identified. All the hundreds of other people in the club that night were identified, hunted down and interviewed. The mystery man was the last person to see her alive and police are still searching for him.
It is thought at least three other girls were also possible victims of the Claremont Serial Killer. 22 year old Julie Cutler went missing in 1988 from the same area. Her Volkswagen car was bizarrely found floating in the surf at Cottesloe beach the day after she went missing, she was never seen again. 17 year old Hayley Maree Dodd went missing in Gin Gin on, a country town about 50 kilometres west of Perth in 1997, while hitching a ride on the road.
Circumstances- Hayley made a telephone call at 10.30am on Thursday 29/7/1999 and was given a lift by a lady to the North West Road, Badgingarra, WA. She was then sighted by a motorist on the North West Road walking towards the farm where she was going at 11.35am on the same day. That was the last sighting of her. At the time of her disappearance she was wearing, light brown hiking boots, blue denim jeans, black v-neck top, grey men's jacket with a hood, silver sunglasses and carrying a light brown backpack with the word " EQUIP" on the flap.
The book covers the controversial, and sometimes ridiculous methods the police used in their search for the Claremont serial killer. Initially it was thought the girls were taken by a taxi driver, so the police interviewed and took DNA samples from every taxi driver in Perth. There were over 1500 of them. Police then had local businesses print, and donate wanted, and information posters in regard to the horrific crime, and had them handed out or posted all over Perth. This author owned a company called Eureka printing at the time and donated 10,000 posters.
The state government then introduced a one million dollar reward, and the Macro Taskforce was formed. Headed by Detective Paul Ferguson, who later had to resign from this position, as he was charged with the rape of two prostitutes and later acquitted. He was later accused of stealing a dealers drugs, and again nothing happened to him. The next head of the task force was corrupt cop David Caphorn.
Controversially and rather stupidly this taskforce invited members of the public to ring in and nominate suspects. These mostly innocent people were then interviewed and DNA tested, in other words harassed. There were over 4000 suspects! . I was later nominated as a suspect and interviewed and DNA tested only to be cleared and then 15 years later interviewed again and cleared in June, 2011 as were another 2000 innocent men! I am not happy about it.
The ironic part about this is I was living in Perth at the time of course and had rung the police nominating a suspect of my own. A promiscuous, eccentric, lawyer mate of mine had started acting rather suspiciously. He had come to my home at 4 am one morning and broke down crying drunk in front of my wife and I, claiming he had killed somebody, but when questioned further he would not elaborate.
The matter was forgotten until much later, when this bloke’s wife informed me that he had been at Club Bayview and the Claremont Hotel the nights all three girls went missing. He also had in his possession a replica 9mm Beretta which I had lent him. I reported all this to the police and he was investigated but refused to provide DNA or account for his whereabouts on the nights of the killings and abductions. He is still a suspect to this day. This author has since had discussions with the author of this book, Debi Marshall and made a full written statement to her.
David Caphorn the head of this investigation then focused his attention on a male public servant caught suspiciously cruising the streets of Claremont late at night several nights in a row. This person was relentlessly followed and harassed by police for weeks. He was questioned at length and his house was searched and his car and phone bugged. He was innocent. He is still a suspect. The investigation into this man was badly thought out, blinkered and hampered by the tunnel vision of Detective David Caphorn.
Detective Caphorn had a history of this type of behaviour. In later years he had negative findings registered against him by the West Australian Crime and Corruption Commission for framing an innocent man for murder. Andrew Mallard served 12 years in jail before they realised he was innocent and had been framed, eventually they found the real killer Simon Rochford, who had already been convicted of murdering his girlfriend and was in jail. He killed himself when they found out about the second murder.
The police then continue to harass another innocent Perth resident Claremont psychiatrist Peter Weygers, also the lord Mayor of Claremont who had been critical of police publicly. A twist in the story is that he was a suspect because he was renting his house out to a taxi driver mate of his, who because of his suspicious actions, had attracted police attention, and was a leading suspect.
This story has some weird and interesting twists and turns, and when you think you have heard it all the police make a shocking revelation. When asked by the author it they had DNA material from the murder crime scenes to compare DNA they were collecting from suspects, the answer was a positive no. Why then had they spent thousands of man hours and millions of dollars harassing the frightened, and totally innocent men of Perth?
The answer was that in the future, the police hoped that science and technology may have advanced to the point where they could extract DNA from crime scene exhibits they held from the killings. This was a huge long-shot and showed how totally helpless and inept the police and the investigation really was.
In October 2006, it was announced that Mark Dixie (AKA Shane Turner),who was convicted in the United Kingdom for the 2005 murder of 18-year-old model Sally Anne Bowman is a prime suspect in the killings, and the WA Police's Macro Taskforce has requested DNA samples from Dixie to test against evidence taken during the enquiry.
Debi Marshal fell out with the police in a big way over this book. The story is so sad and frustrating but one that must be told. Nobody has ever been caught for these killings but as mentioned above the police are still questioning innocent men by the thousands and have no idea what they are doing. Well investigated. Well written and well worth a read.