12. Mefloquine Dispatches: The Claremont Serial Killings, April 1997 (Final)

by Shane Granger

I was already suffering from the prodromal stage of Lariam toxicity as I buried my very good mate.

We look down at the century old corpse. We all laugh. The Sergeant tells us to shut the fuck up and concentrate. At the bottom of the pit lays a skeleton. The wooden coffin has mostly crumbled into broken pieces and dust exposing the bones. The skull smiles obscenely. It’s been 99-years and they are getting moved on. We lower the coffin carefully, not disturbing the previous occupant. Later that day we will lower the corpse of *BY into the same hole.

It is both a moment of gravitas and levity.

There are seven of us. Six Diggers and a Sergeant. Most wear Sandy berets. Two blue berets from Townsville. We all know each other or are known to each other. A good set of blokes. It is an official burial with a catafalque party in Perth, WA.

We finish the practice session.

As we return to the Regiment one of the Boys is reading the paper. In the pages are the latest updates on the third murder. A serial killer was stalking the streets of Perth. Three girls. All similar. Young and attractive. The first two in 1996 and then a big gap until another one in the last month. No one knows who was murdering them in 1997.

We are all bored, so it becomes the subject of conversation. One of the Boys tells us that the ‘Coppers’ (WA Police) have visited the Barracks recently. They haven’t ruled out that it might be a soldier. Frequent travel might explain the time between killings. Just a friendly interview at this stage just to rule the Regiment out of it.

Opinions rattle and roll around the bus. It’s good banter and it takes our mind off things.

I rattle off a quick-fire set of statistics. I study serial killers in my spare time. I might still want to join the Australian Federal Police as an investigator, but things are a bit fuzzy. Two decades later I would discover I was studying Psychology and I even have a letter from Les Nielsen who I was writing a paper on at the time.

With no Google in the 90s everyone has an opinion. At the end of my opinion I state that it was highly unlikely for a Regiment guy to be the killer because most US serial killers historically kill after they leave the services. Not always, but mostly. Think Jeffrey Dahmer. I read a lot of true crime books in those days.

Everyone is impressed with our combined wisdom until the Sergeant comments out of the side of his mouth.

“Fuck off you idiots”.

We all laugh. Another moment of levity before the tension of the day.

To the Lost.



Image: The West Australian