One question haunting serial killer case
It's a case that has scarred a city for more than two decades and yesterday two families of victims of Bradley John Edwards finally got closure.
But for the family of Sarah Spiers, who say they have lived in "anxiety and torment" since her disappearance, it can only have been heartbreaking.
Former Telstra technician Edwards has been found guilty of murdering childcare worker Jane Rimmer, 23, in 1996 and solicitor Ciara Glennon, 27, in 1997.
But Edwards, 51, was acquitted of killing secretary Ms Spiers, 18, whose remains have never been found, prompting pleas from the state's leaders for the convicted killer to reveal any information he may know about the teen's death.
Justice Stephen Hall handed down his verdict on Thursday and said that while Edwards was a "likely suspect" in Ms Spiers' case, there was no forensic evidence.
"The prosecution has failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the accused killed Ms Spiers," Justice Hall said.
"The evidence of his propensity to kill may make him a likely suspect, or even the probable killer, but it does not exclude the real possibility that some other person killed her.
"If an inference consistent with innocence is open then the accused cannot be found guilty."
'LET THEM BURY THEIR DAUGHTER'
At a press conference after the verdict was handed down an emotional WA Premier Mark McGowan addressed Edwards directly and asked him to reveal any details he knows about Ms Spiers for her family's sake.
He urged Edwards to "do the right thing by the family" and "let them bury their daughter".
"If you know where Sarah Spiers is can you please tell us," Mr McGowan said.
"Can you please provide some closure to the Spiers family to let them know where their daughter is.
"At times like this it's the time to do the right thing by the family, it's the time to give them some comfort out of all this pain."
Mr McGowan said he had been in talks with the WA Police Comissioner and there would be "continuing efforts" and resources provided to find Ms Spiers.
"Obviously whatever the police require obviously we will work with them to provide the resources they need," he said.
'IT WILL BE VERY DIFFICULT TO MAKE FORENSIC LINKS'
But one former policeman admits it will be challenging for authorities to make headway in the search for Ms Spiers without a body or a confession.
Karl O'Callaghan was WA's Police Commissioner from 2004 to 2017 and told ABC radio he felt "elation and relief| but also "somewhat mixed emotions too because only two convictions were recorded".
"I think one of the challenges facing police now is without Sarah Spiers' body it will be very difficult to make forensic links," he said.
"We've already heard the Premier of Western Australia call on Bradley Edwards to say if he knows where Sarah is buried and I would reiterate that.
"If we can get that information we can solve this issue for the Spiers family and bring enormous relief and comfort and perhaps closure and peace for them."
The Spiers family are yet to comment on the verdict, however, speaking outside court Ms Rimmer's sister Lee said that attention now needed to turn to Ms Spiers so that her loved ones could get justice.
"We got the result we wanted and now we just have to keep working for the Spiers family and hope someone finds Sarah," she said.
'ANXIETY AND TORMENT'
The Spiers family are yet to speak on the verdict, however, they have spoken previously of the anguish Ms Spiers' disappearance has brought them
In a 2017 interview Ms Spiers' father Don issued a public plea to her killer to reveal her whereabouts.
"It's as though my stomach has been cut open and fallen on the ground and I've been walking in it for 20 years," he told Nine News in Perth.
"I can't express strongly enough how someone's life can be changed and how torment can be implemented for so long because of someone's selfish behaviour.
"To think that time will make us feel better, it doesn't.
"Because at the moment my wife's and my anxiety and torment is as large as it's ever been. Give us back our Sarah.
"The love that she expressed to us and the love that we expressed to her were what made us happy and content in our lives, and since we lost her that has disappeared."
Sarah had recently moved to Perth from the country and was working as a secretary when she went out with friends on Australia Day, 1996 to Cottesloe's Ocean Beach Hotel.
The girls went on to the Club Bay View in Claremont around midnight, with Ms Spiers telling a friend just before 2am that she was tired and going to get a taxi home.
Ms Spiers went to a phone box at 2.06am to order a taxi and two men in a passing car saw a woman resembling her waiting on the corner of Stirling Highway and Stirling Road in Claremont
When her taxi arrived, Ms Spiers had vanished and has not been seen alive since.
With NCA NewsWire
Originally published as One question haunting serial killer case