The Claremont Murders ★★★½
Seven, Monday, April 10, 8:35 p.m
In a dark suburban backyard, a mysterious figure in a white kimono makes its way past a clothesline and attempts to molest a sleeping woman. When his victim starts screaming, he flees and throws the kimono on the lawn.
Thus begins a series of crimes that rocked Perth in the 1990s, went unsolved for years and led to what the Western Australian media dubbed the trial of the century. Within 14 months, three young women in the suburb of Claremont went missing. All had celebrated near the same popular hotel. All had been alone on the street looking for taxis home before disappearing.
Authorities offered a $250,000 reward for information, the highest ever offered in WA at the time; 8000 leaflets were distributed across Perth. Two months after her disappearance, Jane Rimmer’s body was found in bushland. Nineteen days after Ciara Glennon’s disappearance, her body was found by a bushwalker. Police set up a special unit, Taskforce Macro, to investigate. At the height of his quest, Macro had more than 100 team members.
Veteran director Peter Andrikidis (Underbelly, Janet King) brings a dark, dramatic edge to the narrative of this story, focusing on the work of two detectives, Gavin Wyatt (Aaron Glenane, Shantaram) and Bobbi McAllister (Laura Gordon, harrow). As the investigation drags on, the pressure mounts and McAllister goes undercover in a risky attempt to capture the prime suspect, who has adamantly maintained his innocence.
We meet the parents, including Carol and Don Spiers, convincingly played by Kate Ritchie (home and away) and Eric Thomson (aftertaste). Her daughter Sarah is the first to disappear. Every taxi driver in Perth gets grilled. At a press conference, Carol implores the camera with an expressionless face. “Please just tell us where Sarah is,” she says.
Among the media is TV reporter Alison Fan (Catherine Van-Davies, The Twelve), which provides a common thread through the story and addresses the questions that the public and parents have had about the problems plaguing the investigation.
Despite the enormous publicity and the enormous number of interviews conducted, hard evidence has been elusive. In an era before widespread CCTV, they worked on scant details in the three cases that described men in white cars, which could have been taxis, station wagons or Telstra markers.
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