Men face DNA tests in hunt for prostitute's killer

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The Independent Online
ABOUT 1,200 men suspected of using prostitutes are to be forced to give DNA samples as part of an inquiry into the murder of a Hull prostitute.

The police yesterday appealed to the men to contact them voluntarily or else face a "knock on the door".

The move follows the murder of Samantha Class, 29, who was found dead on the shore of the river Humber near North Ferriby, Hull, last October. She had been beaten around the head and strangled before her body was dumped semi-naked into the river.

Ms Class had been working as a prostitute for about eight months and worked in the red light district of Hull.

Known to her punters as "Zoe", "Rachel", "Little Sam" and "Sammy", she used to take her clients back to her house nearby, which was also home to her three children.

The police found six different semen samples at the house and want to discover the identity of her most recent clients.

Humberside police have drawn up a list of about 1,200 men who have been involved in offences connected with prostitutes, including assault, as well as suspected and convicted kerb crawlers.

Detectives want to take mouth swabs from the suspects, most of whom will be unaware they are on a police list, and obtain DNA samples to compare with the unique genetic "fingerprints" found in the dead woman's home.

About 100 prostitutes work in Hull's red light district, which attracts men looking for sex from as far afield as Nottingham, Lincoln, York and Scarborough.

Detective Inspector Phil Bell said: "We want people to volunteer to provide samples before we go knocking on their door. If in a few weeks people have not come forward we will send a letter to their home address. Most of these people will probably not want anyone, such as their family, to know they are involved in the red light district."

The list of between 1,100 and 1,200 names have been obtained from police inquiries going back about 18 months including a recent crackdown on kerb crawlers.

Swabbing for DNA samples will begin on 18 May at pre-arranged police stations throughout Hull.

Ms Class was believed to have turned to prostitution to support her children, a one-year-old boy and girls aged 12 and four. On the night of her murder she hired a baby-sitter to look after her children while she worked.

She is believed to have started prostitution about 12 years ago but then gave it up. However, she returned to the streets at the beginning of 1997.

Her death came exactly a year after another prostitute, Karen Tomlinson, 24, was killed in the city.

Similarly, six months afterwards Humberside police contacted thousands of men who had kerb-crawled in the city and asked them to provide DNA samples to help eliminate them from the murder inquiry.

A man has been charged with Ms Tomlinson's murder and is currently awaiting trial.