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Why we didn't catch the Claremont killer

Con Bayens, former head of a WA prostitution taskforce, says he could have met the Claremont killer

The former head of the Western Australian Police task-force responsible for catching the notorious Claremont killer has spoken out about the investigation that never hit its mark.

It’s haunted investigators for nearly two decades. Australia’s biggest and most expensive police investigation into the Claremont murders has never been solved.

Paul Ferguson, the former head of the taskforce charged with finding the serial killer, has spoken out to try and generate new leads.

"I gave up two years of my life working on the Macro task-force. I know that the offender thinks at this stage that he is/she is/they are smart and they've got away with it," Ferguson told Sunday Night.

"That's why I'm talking to you because WA Police have chosen not to be part of this program. And, yeah, I'm fully aware of that."

After he was removed as head of Macro task-force in 1997 David Caporn was appointed but also had no luck finding the killer.

But the former head of WA’s prostitution task-force, Con Bayens, told Sunday Night that Macro’s secrecy and obsessive focus on one suspect derailed the investigation behind the scenes.

All victims of Perth's notorious Claremont serial killer, 27-year-old Ciara Glennon, 23-year-old Jane Rimmer, and 18-year-old Sarah Spiers were intelligent women who were abducted during a night out in Claremont, WA.

Their fateful nights unfolded with chilling similarity. They began with drinks at beachside Cottesloe and moved on to neighbouring Claremont. Both decided late in the evening to leave the pack and go it alone.

Ciara and Jane's bodies were both found dumped in bushland.

"The fact that the body was just dumped could mean a number of things. First and foremost it means he's arrogant... He wanted the body found," Paul Ferguson said.

The women were all similar in appearance and age and particular focus was given to taxi drivers in the hunt for the killer.

Bayens said he picked up a man in Highgate, an area notorious for prostitution, with all the hallmarks of a killer, but he was ignored by those in charge.

He stopped a man he believed to be loitering in an unmarked police car.

"The boot was lined in blue plastic. There was wire ties, a pair of pliers, some masking tape," Bayens said.

"We had one girl murdered, we had another one missing. He could have been the killer."

But Bayens said he was told by the head of the taskforce that they already had their man.

He never saw a response to the brief he prepared on the man in Highgate, despite his striking similarities to the killer profile.

"What happened in Highgate that night, what I saw that night, has haunted me for a lot of years," Bayens said.

The man Macro set its sights on was a public servant named Lance Williams.

Williams always maintained his innocence and after years of heavy scrutiny, including round-the-clock surveillance, he was simply dropped as a suspect without explanation.

As our program was going to air, WA police responded to our queries about the brief prepared by Bayens.

Read the full correspondence here.

They claim Bayens did receive a response, which he adamantly denies.

"This seems to me that the Macro task-force was a situation where police have really mucked up and now we have got a cover up, and that's the saddest part. That they never said 'we made a mistake'."

Paul Ferguson says he wants to renew the search for the killer in the hope of finding justice and peace, particularly for Sarah's family.

Unlike the other women, Sarah Spiers was never found. Her father has spent nearly 20 years following every lead he can to locate her body.

"Most parents expect their children to go to their funeral," Ferguson said.

"When you raise a child and that person is in their late teens, early 20s, and they're murdered, the family have to... come to the realisation that they've lost their child, they've outlived their child and the trauma that the child went to prior to the death."

If you can help investigators, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.