Blood samples tested in search for Abigail Witchalls' attacker

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The Independent Online

Bloodstains recovered from two prime suspects for the attempted murder of Abigail Witchalls are being tested and could reveal the identity of her attacker within days.

Bloodstains recovered from two prime suspects for the attempted murder of Abigail Witchalls are being tested and could reveal the identity of her attacker within days.

The first blood sample belongs to Richard Cazaly. The 23 year-old lived in the same Surrey village as Mrs Witchalls, but left five days after she was attacked, and became a suspect after driving to Scotland where he committed suicide. The sample was retrieved from the knee of his trousers. The second belongs to a 25-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and who lives close to where Mrs Witchalls was stabbed in the neck in front of her 21-month-old son, Joseph.

The blood samples were found on the doorknob and steering wheel of his car. The stains are understood to be small and are being "grown'' in a laboratory so they can provide a more accurate result.

Mrs Witchalls was left paralysed from the neck down after the attack on 20 April, and could only communicate by blinking. She was 10 weeks pregnant at the time, and it has not been made public whether the baby has survived. Doctors are still not sure whether she will overcome the paralysis.

In his first interview since the attack, her husband, Benoit, spoke of her "remarkable character". He said the first word she communicated to him on arrival at the hospital was "happy", to express her relief Joseph had survived.

Through several painstaking hours, she communicated an account of the attack and a description of her assailant, including the fact he drove a blue car and wore distinctive earrings.

Her description partially matched that of Cazaly, who drove a blue Volvo. But Mrs Witchalls also said her attacker had been clean shaven, and Cazaly, a landscape gardener, had a goatee beard.

The suspect left three suicide notes, one to his mother, one to his girlfriend, Vanessa McKenzie, and one addressed "To Whom it May Concern". He is understood to have told Ms McKenzie, with whom he had been rowing, that he "might have done it", and to have warned her to leave him, saying he might not be able to control himself.

Miss McKenzie, 25, who returned to Australia several days after the attack, is understood to have told detectives that she believed her boyfriend was probably responsible for the attempted murder.

Police have stressed that the two men are among a number of suspects being investigated and that a wealth of forensic material is being examined, which could take weeks, possibly even months, to be analysed and understood fully.

Mr Witchalls is to feature in an appeal for more information to be broadcast on BBC1's Crimewatch programme tonight.

"We feel very lucky and very blessed because she is fully present as herself, it's just great to see and it's a great joy," he told the programme.

Although it was considered likely that she might die, the young mother has astounded hospital staff with her progress, and is now reporting some sensation in her shoulders, arms and legs.

"She's a remarkable character. So I think I've had a crash course in spinal injury, and you just can't tell anything for the first month so it's a case of wait and see really, but she's still got her smile which is very comforting to see.

"You can see in her face when she sees Joseph. The reason that she said her first word that she picked was 'happy' was because she was so relieved that he [Joseph] came out of it unscathed, physically.

"Between trying to understand our son who has quite a basic vocabulary and Abigail who is trying to lip read things I'm getting much better," he said.