After a staff party at the Parmelia Hilton hotel on June 20, 1988, Julie Cutler, 22, vanished. Her unoccupied car was discovered overturned in the sea off Cottesloe beach two days later, adding to the mystery surrounding her disappearance. Her remains were never located.
The stepsister, who wished to remain anonymous, has disclosed the previous incident that alarmed Ms. Cutler.
She claimed that a few weeks prior to her disappearance, Ms. Cutler had called her parents to inform them that she was returning home from a shift at the hotel when she was being tailgated by a car that seemed to be trying to push her off the road.
For several kilometers along the Stirling Highway, the car had followed her closely, sometimes coming dangerously close to her rear bumper. The mystery vehicle then pulled alongside Ms. Cutler’s car as it got closer to the Cottesloe turn-off for Eric Street before abruptly swerving in front of it.
Then, the unidentified car slowed to nearly a stop, and Ms. Cutler quickly veered around it and drove off. Police were notified of the incident, but the driver was never located.
According to Ms. Cutler’s stepsister, “she called her parents extremely upset afterwards and was genuinely concerned that this person wanted to get to her.”
“It was just random; it wasn’t an act of road rage.” She believed the person inside the vehicle intended to either push her off the road or make her stop. She was very concerned about this person’s identity and the motivation behind their actions. She was truly shaken by it.
A few weeks later, Ms. Cutler’s 1963 Fiat sedan, painted in two tones, slid off an access road and into the choppy waves that were lapping at the boatsheds of the Cottesloe Surf Club.
The car’s headlights and ignition were on when it entered the water, according to forensic tests, and both of the front doors were unlocked and the driver’s side window was open. The rear doors were also locked.
Since Ms. Cutler’s body would have washed ashore if she had driven the car, the police ruled out suicide.
vehicle in the surf. On the day Ms. Cutler vanished, police verified that she had been spotted standing next to the car in the Parmelia Hilton’s rear parking lot at around 12.30 a.m.
The Cutler case remained unresolved until June 1989, when detectives received a white blouse that they were using as evidence.
The blouse, one of 37 created especially for the Parmelia Hilton, was a size 14, Ms. Cutler’s size. About the time Ms. Cutler vanished, a plastic bag containing the blouse and a pair of black pantyhose was discovered beneath a table at the King Kebab takeout in Centreway Arcade, Perth. She changed into a black evening gown after it was thought she was carrying the bag. The takeaway owner had held the bag for a year until renewed publicity about the case sparked her memory and she handed it to police.
Detectives from the Macro task force investigating the Claremont murders spoke to Ms Cutler’s parents many times, but her stepsister said police had never told the family that they believed she was the first victim of the serial killer.
“Obviously it was reported that police thought she was the first victim of the killer but the detectives never gave us indications that she was and it’s not something that we really believed,” she said. “The first Claremont murder and her disappearance occurred more than seven years apart, so the timing didn’t really seem right.”
The stepsister of Ms. Cutler announced that they would be remembering her disappearance at Corpus Christi church today.
“It’s been 20 years but she certainly has not been forgotten and we wanted to do something to remember her,” she said.