Fresh police plea in Melanie Hall murder probe

Detectives investigating the murder of a young hospital worker today appealed for help in identifying her killer - six months after her bones were found dumped beside a motorway.

Melanie Hall, 25, was last seen alive enjoying a night out in Bath, Somerset, in 1996.



Her remains were found last October near junction 14 of the M5 in South Gloucestershire by a workman clearing vegetation.



Avon and Somerset Police said today that they have still not established what happened to Miss Hall after she was last seen at Cadillacs nightclub, in Walcot Street, on June 9 1996.



In a bid to jog witnesses' memories, detectives have released images of clothing "similar" to that worn by Miss Hall prior to her disappearance.



Detective Superintendent Mike Courtiour, leading the case, said: "The investigation team has continued to work tirelessly during the past six months, following up new information we have received and revisiting the previous investigations that followed Melanie's disappearance from Walcot Street, back in 1996.



"250 additional statements have been taken and 1,200 new tasks and investigative actions have been completed.



"The forensic work has been extensive and is still continuing today. Results of ongoing sensitive scientific tests are still not complete. However, at this moment, there is no forensic breakthrough."



Miss Hall, a psychology graduate, had been on a night out with friends and her boyfriend of three weeks, Dr Philip Karlbaum, who left the club "upset" after seeing her dancing with another man.



Miss Hall, who worked as a clerical officer in the orthopaedic department at Bath's Royal United Hospital where she met Dr Karlbaum, was last seen sitting on a stool near the dancefloor shortly after 1am.



Thousands of nightclubbers and taxi drivers were interviewed in an investigation involving 60 officers and several searches of the River Avon, but no trace of Miss Hall was found.



That was until October last year, when her remains were discovered hidden under five plastic bags. A ring which had been in her family for generations was also found.



DS Courtiour went on: "Where did she go? Who was she with? What happened to her and then resulted in her body being dumped 30 miles away, wrapped in black bins bags and tied up with blue rope?



"We do know that there was considerable activity around and outside the nightclub on that evening nearly 14 years ago.



"We have had sightings and been given descriptions of a number of females in the street and in the lane close to the club, between 1 and 3am.



"Some of the descriptions we have been given suggest that one could possibly have been Melanie, although none are so accurate and compelling that we can be sure."



DS Courtiour said on that evening, Miss Hall was wearing a distinctive blue-silk dress with a round neck.



She had on black suede mule shoes, with straps across the front and an open toe, believed to be a size 5 or 6. She had a creamy-coloured, single-breasted, long-sleeved and hip-length jacket, and was carrying a black satchel-type handbag.



DS Courtiour said: "The only item of jewellery found was the ring on her finger that helped us identify her remains.



"What I want to know now is what happened to all her clothing? What happened to her bag and possessions and what happened to her watch and jewellery?



"I am sure somebody must know what happened to her and where all those items went.



"I know it has been a significant length of time since she went missing, but I believe there are people who do know what has happened and are remaining silent."



In 2003 police arrested two men in connection with Miss Hall's disappearance but they were released without charge after police searched buildings and a field near Bath.



The police case has never been closed and detectives have looked at possible links with the case of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh and the so-called "Batman rapist" - a serial sex attacker in Bath who has evaded capture for years.



The prime suspect in the Suzy Lamplugh case, convicted killer John Cannan, was in jail at the time Miss Hall went missing but police interviewed him in 1998 as they believed his former cellmate, convicted rapist Christopher Clark, could have been involved.



Police also questioned convicted killer Mark Shillibier about the case in December 2000, but no charges were brought against either man.

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