Police last night released CCTV footage of a man suspected of murdering two people in their homes as a nationwide manhunt intensified. James Allen, 35, is wanted in connection with the murder of Julie Davison, 50, in Whitby, North Yorkshire, and 81-year-old Colin Dunford in Middlesbrough. Yesterday, police released CCTV footage from last week of Mr Allen in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, in an attempt to encourage more witnesses to come forward.
In a joint appeal, Cleveland and North Yorkshire police warned that Mr Allen, who is predominantly bald, is likely to try to change his appearance by growing his hair at the sides. He is described as 5ft 7in (1.74m), and has tattoos on both arms.
Detectives also revealed that Mr Allen, originally from Blackpool has previous convictions for violence and has served a prison sentence. He is on court bail for a violent offence.
Sightings of Mr Allen have been reported across the Cleveland and North Yorkshire areas, and he was said to have been spotted in Leeds on Thursday and Friday. His last confirmed location was when he stayed in a bed and breakfast in Scarborough on Wednesday night.
More than 100 detectives across the region are working on the case. Addressing the public, Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Lang said yesterday: "Two innocent people have lost their lives, and it is absolutely vital that we catch James Allen as soon as possible. If you know where he is now, call us. James, if you are reading this, give yourself up. It is only a matter of time before we find you."
Mr Allen knew Mr Dunford, who was last seen alive at 5pm on Sunday and was discovered bludgeoned to death at his home in Leven Street, Middlesbrough, on Monday. Mr Allen lived next door to Mr Dunford until about a year ago. Detectives said there was no sign of forced entry to the home.
It is not thought Mr Allen knew Ms Davison, who was found dead by her sister in Whitby on Wednesday. She had suffered serious head injuries. Detectives said robbery was a possible motive for both attacks, but they stressed that investigators were keeping an open mind.
Police warned members of the public not to approach Mr Allen, whom they described as "dangerous".
Det Ch Supt Lang added: "I would repeat our message in urging members of the public, if you see James Allen, to call 999 immediately."