Costa Killer investigated over Dowler murder

The Briton who has confessed to murdering two teenage girls in Spain is being investigated over the death of the schoolgirl Amanda Dowler, police said yesterday.

The movements of Tony King, known in Spain as the "Costa Killer", are being checked by detectives investigating several unsolved rapes and murders in Britain. Amanda, 13, disappeared from a railway station near her home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in March last year. Her body was found 20 miles away in woodland at Yateley Heath, Hampshire.

Scotland Yard confirmed that since Mr King's arrest in Spain they have been contacted about two rapes and four unsolved murders, including that of Amanda. The other unsolved attacks happened in the home counties and the Manchester area over the past 20 years.

In 1997, Mr King was named as the prime suspect for a serious sex attack in Surrey, but he fled to Spain 24 hours before police arrived at his home in Carshalton. Numerous callers to the BBC's Crimewatch programme identified him in connection with an attack on a 21-year-old Hungarian au pair near Leatherhead station, 15 miles from where Amanda was last seen.

Mr King was arrested on the Costa del Sol 10 days ago over the deaths of Sonia Carabantes, aged 17, and Rocio Wanninkhof, 19, who were both strangled.

In 1986, Mr King, whose real name is Tony Bromwich, was sentenced to 10 years' youth custody for several sex attacks in London, which earned him the nickname the "Holloway Strangler". He was released in 1991 but was jailed again for three years for armed robbery.

Detectives are scrutinising Mr King's movements since 1995 when he is thought to have been travelling between England and Spain. Police have set up Operation Washfield to investigate King's possible links to other crimes. The operation will also involve the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the National Crime Faculty, and Spanish officers.