Police swap evidence in hunt for Celine's killer po

IAN MacKINNON

Detectives leading the hunt for the murderer of the French accountancy student Celine Figard, 19, yesterday began sifting evidence collected by colleagues from another force in the hope that it might shed new light on her killer.

The mass of information on the computer database collated by police in Hampshire, where she was due to spend Christmas with her cousin at Fordingbridge, was transferred to their counterparts in West Mercia.

Her naked body was discovered in a lay-by on the A449 at Hawford, Worcestershire, on Friday, after she had been missing for 10 days since she accepted a lift from a lorry driver at Chieveley services at the junction of the M4 and A34, near Newbury, Berkshire.

The West Mercia officers were also preparing to liaise with other forces on suspicion that Miss Figard's murder could be linked to a number of others by a serial killer dubbed the "Midlands Ripper". In particular the team are looking at the murder of Tracy Turner, 32, a prostitute whose naked body was found in a ditch near Bitteswell, in Leicestershire, after she was last seen alive at a service station on the M6 in Staffordshire.

Senior officers from four forces have met twice to discuss the possibility that her death and those of Samo Paull, Dawn Shields, Julie Finley and Julie Clayton across the region might be connected.

Meanwhile, police trying to find the missing Bristol teenager Louise Smith halted a New Year's eve disco at the nightclub she visited just before disappeared to ask for help. Officers circulated among the dancers at Spirals nightclub handing out leaflets and asking for any information about Miss Smith, 18, who was last seen on Christmas Eve. The police, who said they were extremely concerned about the girl's welfare, said they had received a great deal of information which would be evaluated.

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