Alleged Australian serial killer denies 3 murders in 1990s

An alleged serial killer on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to murdering three women who vanished from an Australian city nightclub strip more than 20 years ago and to sexually assaulting another two teenagers up to 40 years ago.

Bradley Robert Edwards, 49, has been in custody since he was arrested at his Perth home in December 2016 after what police described as the biggest and most complex investigation in Western Australia state history.

But he did not enter pleas to the charges until he appeared in Perth's Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court via a video link from prison. Magistrate Jan Whitbread ordered Edwards to stand trial in the Western Australia Supreme Court at a date to be set.

Three young women went missing in 1996 and 1997 while heading home alone after nights out in the nightlife precinct of the wealthy Perth suburb of Claremont. The crimes became notorious Australia-wide as the "Claremont serial killings."

Edwards was initially charged with the murders of Jane Rimmer, a 23-year-old childcare worker, and Ciara Glennon, a 27-year-old lawyer, whose bodies were found in remote areas on Perth's outskirts within weeks of their disappearances.

The body of Edwards' alleged first victim, 18-year-old secretary Sarah Spiers, has never been found. Edwards, who lived in a suburb 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Claremont, was charged with her murder in February.

Edwards is also charged with abducting and raping a 17-year-old girl in a Perth cemetery in 1995 and indecently assaulting an 18-year-old woman during a break-in at her Perth home in 1988.

Spiers' father Don, Glennon's father Denis and detectives involved in the investigation over the years were in court on Wednesday to hear the pleas.