Audacious murderers who appeal for help to catch killer

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The Independent Online
Tracie Andrews was not the first murderer to broadcast an appeal for help in solving the crime - but she ranks as one of the most audacious.

She was more convincing than Nottingham student John Tanner, who faced the cameras when his girlfriend vanished, or building society worker Gordon Wardell, whose wife was found dead in a lay-by near their Warwickshire home.

Both men made impassioned pleas for witnesses to come forward - and both are now serving life sentences for murder.

Wardell publicly wept for his dead wife Carol at a press conference. Looking frail, wearing dark glasses and seated in a wheelchair, he appealed to the public to catch "the evil killers". He cried again at her funeral.

But police arrested him six days later and in court the jury did not accept Wardell's story of masked raiders kidnapping his wife and leaving him for dead at their home. He was sentenced on 20 December 1995.

Tanner, found guilty of strangling his girlfriend, also fooled the nation. The 22-year-old murdered Rachel McLean, a student at Oxford University. Red-eyed, and apparently overcome with grief, Tanner made a public appeal for information.

Detective Superintendent John Bound, who led the murder inquiry, said he was suspicious of Tanner when he appeared in front of the cameras. Professor Philip Bean, a criminologist at Loughborough University, believes police sometimes use news conferences as an investigative weapon. "If they suspect a person is guilty they may put them up - in the hope that they will trip themselves up," he said.