Killer is identified beyond the grave

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The Independent Online
THE KILLER of a pregnant teenager has been discovered 30 years after the murder but he will go unpunished, because he died last year. DNA testing was used to track down the man, who was questioned during the original murder inquiry in the 1970s.

The killer of Rita Sawyer, 18, whose body was found in a field near Chesterton, Warwickshire, in September 1970, will not be named to spare the suffering of his family, who live in the area. Yesterday, detectives said the man died last year from natural causes.

Ms Sawyer, who was three months pregnant, had been stabbed. Detectives then said they were working on the theory that she was killed after accepting a lift.

The murderer's DNA profile will be compared with other unsolved crimes.

The case was reopened in May, when police said DNA profiling advances had resulted in a genetic fingerprint of the killer being obtained from sperm samples on the victim's clothes.

Police obtained a DNA sample from the dead man, who had been questioned originally with some 2,600 people. He was local to the Leamington Spa area.

Detective Superintendent Steve Hussey said: "The man who murdered Rita Sawyer 29 years ago leaves behind him a partner, children who are now fully grown, and siblings, who were not aware of his involvement in this crime. It would be unfair on these people to publicly denounce the man so many years later, particularly given the fact that we now know that they too suffered traumatic experiences at his hands.

"I can also say the murderer was in no way connected to Rita Sawyer's family and to disclose his identity would serve no useful purpose."

Miss Sawyer's brother, Stuart Sawyer, 35, said: "If they named him now the only people they would be punishing would be his wife and family. He is beyond all punishment."

Violet Bayliss, the aunt of the dead girl, praised police for the speed with which they had conducted the new inquiry. But she said she was sorry that Rita's mother, Margaret, had not been alive to learn that the case had been solved.

"The officers on the original inquiry seemed to put a lot of store in the belief that Rita was murdered after a casual pick-up, but we were convinced she knew her killer. It seems that we might have been right."

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