Man arrested over jogging artist murder

'Significant' arrest made over ferocious park attack that shocked London
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The Independent Online

A man was yesterday arrested on suspicion of stabbing to death the American artist Margaret Muller as she jogged through a park six years ago.

Ms Muller was 27 when she was attacked in Victoria Park, east London, on 3 February 2003. Yesterday Christopher Olokun, 36, was arrested on suspicion of her murder. On Tuesday, the day before Mr Olokun's arrest, a 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, in relation to Ms Muller's death. He was later bailed pending further enquiries.

Ms Muller's death is one of Britain's most notorious unsolved murders. The artist, who studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in central London, was stabbed 49 times in a ferocious attack and was found slumped on a path by joggers who heard her screams. Police said at the time that there were no signs of a sexual attack but that police were keeping an open mind as to the motive.

Ms Muller, who was only 4ft 10ins tall, lived alone in a one-bedroom flat near the park. Police managed to identify her via her mobile phone and trace a cousin living in Britain who was able to identify her body.

The artist had moved to Britain from Virginia five years before her death and studied at the Slade School after working as an assistant to the Washington artist Walter Kravitz. Her paintings had been shown at the Slade, at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where she studied geology, and at the University of Maryland.

At the time of her death, detectives warned that her killer had probably stalked the park looking for a victim before the attack. Within months, officers had carried out more than 1,000 house-to-house inquires and collected a huge number of witness statements. Speaking days after her death, Ms Muller's father, Erich, said that his daughter had considered London a safe place to live. "She liked London very much," he said. "She was aware that it wasn't a terribly desirable area but she didn't feel particularly unsafe. She certainly felt that park was safe."

Despite the Metropolitan Police staging their largest reconstruction (in which 100 witnesses were asked to return to the park a month after the killing and retrace their steps), and a £15,000 reward for information leading to a conviction being offered, no one has ever been charged.

Mr Olokun is the ninth person to be arrested in connection with Ms Muller's death and Scotland Yard is treating his arrest as "significant".

Elias Cecchetti was considered a suspect after being convicted of a knife attack on another jogger. The 15-year-old seriously injured Monica Watts, a teacher, after chasing her through Clissold Park in Stoke Newington, north London, in December 2003. At the time detectives said there was only a tiny chance that the two attacks were unrelated, but the teenager was ruled out when it was discovered he was in custody at the time of Ms Muller's attack.

And in 2005 detectives questioned Christopher Duncan, a 25-year-old Eminem impersonator, in connection with the artist's death after he was convicted of murdering law student Jagdip Najran, but he was also later ruled out.