Cop who found Cleo, solved Claremont and caught bikie sniper claims Australia Day honour

Cop who found Cleo, solved Claremont and caught bikie sniper claims Australia Day honour

January 27, 2022

A West Australian police officer who led the discovery of missing four-year-old Cleo Smith, spearheaded a serial killer’s undoing 23 years on and honed a sniper murder investigation has become a national hero flagged in Australia Day honours.

Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde steered the 140-officer Taskforce Rodia to swoop on the home of Cleo’s abductor in the early hours of November 3 last year.

Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde.Credit:Cameron Myles

On Monday, 36-year-old Terence Darrell Kelly admitted in court to kidnapping Cleo from a Carnarvon campsite more than 900 kilometres north of Perth and sparking a nationwide hunt.

The news of Cleo’s rescue 18 days after she was abducted from her family’s tent in October sent a sigh of relief around Australia and made headlines across the world.

Similarly, Detective Superintendent Wilde’s cold case homicide team brought an end to decades of fear and uncertainty haunting one of Perth’s most elite areas after the murders of three young women in the mid-1990s.

Sarah Spiers, 18, was the first young woman to disappear from the well-heeled western suburb of Claremont in January 1996. Her body has never been found.

In 2020, 51-year-old Bradley Robert Edwards was found guilty of murdering Jane Rimmer, 23, in June 1996 and Ciara Glennon, 27, in March, 1997, and attacking two other women in 1988 and 1995.

Edwards, who worked as a Telstra technician at the time, did not appear on the radar of detectives until 2016 despite Australia’s largest and longest running murder taskforce, Macro, exhausting every lead – bar one.

An evidence box from a 1988 Huntingdale sex assault, which underwent DNA testing as part of a routine cold case review.

The DNA recovered from a semen-stained kimono left at the scene matched the unknown male’s DNA profile from underneath Ms Glennon’s fingernails, which was also connected to an unsolved abduction and rape at Karrakatta cemetery in 1995.

Detective Superintendent Wilde’s cold case team brought multiple charges against Edwards in December 2016 and he was convicted of the charges, excepting that of the murder of Sarah Spiers, after a 95-day trial in November 2019.

Detective Superintendent Wilde also directed a murder investigation operation into Rebels bikie gang leader Nick Martin being fatally shot at a Perth motorplex in front of family and friends in December 2020.

Operation Ravello needed to act quickly to reduce the risk of retribution flare-ups between warring gangs, the Rebels and the Comancheros, over the assassination.

The officers successfully brought murder charges against a 35-year-old former soldier for hire and suppressed bikie gang activity, while Detective Superintendent Wilde developed detailed contingency plans to keep violence from spilling onto Perth streets.

An officer since 1984, he quickly rose through the ranks of Detective Senior Sergeant in 2007 to Detective Superintendent in 2015, and he began setting strategic directions and objectives at the evidence-based policing division.

He oversaw the development and implementation of integrated evidence-based policing into all facets of police practice and training across the state.

“Over his 38-year career, Detective Superintendent Wilde has displayed a tenacity and a dedication to justice that is not easily forgotten,” his Australia Day honours commendation said.

“His leadership and expertise have led to much transformative change throughout the WA Police Force and it is for these reasons that he is a worthy recipient of the Australian Police Medal.”

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