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.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living