Murdered woman `thrown in river alive'

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The Independent Online
JASON BENNETTO

Crime Correspondent

A woman walking her dogs was drowned by someone who tied her hands behind her back and threw her alive into a river, it was disclosed yesterday.

The attack on Karen Skipper, 34, is believed to have been sexually motivated - she had been stripped from the waist down - although a post-mortem examination did not reveal any signs of a sexual assault.

Ms Skipper's body was found on Sunday submerged in five feet of water in the river Ely, near Cardiff. Her hands had been bound with a dog leash and she had cuts and bruises.

A man walking his dog alerted the police after he discovered Ms Skipper's distressed pets waiting on the river bank.

It was also revealed that the police are examining the murder files of Geraldine Palk, 27, who was found stabbed to death in December 1990 less than a mile from where Ms Skipper's body was found. However, detectives believe there are unlikely to be any links.

Police believe Ms Skipper was attacked at about midnight on Saturday as she walked her dogs. The area is popular with children, dog walkers and anglers, but is unlit. She was found face down in the river wearing a jacket, sweater and T-shirt. The rest of her clothes were on the bank.

Reg Bean, 63, who found her, said: "When I got to the field I noticed the dogs. When they came running towards me I could see they had been sitting on a pair of jeans. I began to fear the worst when there was still no sign of the owner and I could see a dark shadow under the surface of the water."

Detective Superintendent Terry Ewington said a post-mortem examination showed that Ms Skipper drowned. He added: "It is a horrifying murder because we know that Karen was alive when she went into the water."

It is not known whether she was conscious when she was pushed into the river. Further forensic tests were being carried out to discover if she was raped.

Det Supt Ewington, who is heading the murder inquiry, said Ms Skipper was last seen alive at about 11.30pm when she left the house she shared with friends nearby. Police confirmed her former husband had been spoken to, but not in relation to the murder.

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