Man arrested over murder of Joanna Yeates

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The Independent Online

Detectives hunting the killer of Joanna Yeates were last night questioning a man on suspicion of her murder, and searching the flat of one of her neighbours.

A 32-year-old man was arrested early yesterday morning. Avon and Somerset Police have not named him, but last night forensic science officers were searching the flat of Vincent Tabak, a 32-year-old Dutch engineer who lived in the same block of flats as Ms Yeates.

Scaffolding and a green tarpaulin were erected at the rear of the converted Victorian property on Canynge Road, Bristol, and a screen covered the entrance to the flat where Mr Tabak lives, and the rear of Ms Yeates's home. Police sealed off both ends of the street as officers searched the property.

The arrest is believed to have taken place at a house in Aberdeen Road, one mile away from the block of flats.

Ms Yeates's father welcomed the latest development, almost five weeks after she disappeared and four weeks after her body was found.

At the family home in Ampfield, Hampshire, David Yeates, 63, said: "We were told at 6am that someone was arrested on suspicion of Jo's murder and their age. Both Teresa and I are very pleased an arrest has been made and the investigation is moving forward."

Mr Tabak, who works as a people flow analyst for engineering firm Buro Happold in Bath, lives with his girlfriend, Tanja Morson, in Clifton.

Eindhoven University of Technology confirmed that Mr Tabak, from Veghel in the Netherlands, completed a PhD entitled "User Simulation of Space Utilisation" three or four years ago.

Last night, a close university friend told The Independent he was shocked that Mr Tabak had been linked to the investigation.

Erik Blokhuis, 29, added: "Vincent was a colleague of mine for two years and we were quite close. We keep in regular contact via email – at least once a month. I last heard from him after New Year's Eve. He sent an email wishing me all the best on behalf of him and Tanja.

"He met her in England in February 2009. She is a very open person. The first time I met her, it felt like we were friends already. I liked her from the moment I saw her.

"I know he enjoys living in England a lot. And he is very happy with his girlfriend. I saw them together in Eindhoven a few times, when he came back to visit, and they looked happy. I think they had plans to maybe get married.

"We went to pubs often. I considered him a very good friend and still do. We would watch movies together and go to bars often. He told me he had made many friends at work and also through Tanya. He is a very sociable person."

The arrest was the second to be made since Ms Yeates's frozen body was found dumped in Longwood Lane, four miles from her home, on Christmas Day.

Chris Jefferies, Ms Yeates's landlord, was arrested on 30 December and questioned for three days on suspicion of murder before being released on bail. He has told friends he expects to be cleared and denies involvement with Ms Yeates's death.

Ms Yeates disappeared on Friday 17 December after going for Christmas drinks with colleagues at her architectural firm.

Her boyfriend Greg Reardon, 27, reported her missing after he returned to Bristol on 19 December, following a weekend away visiting family in Sheffield. Police have said repeatedly that Mr Reardon is not a suspect.

Ms Yeates was last seen on CCTV buying a pizza from Tesco. Police have never found the pizza, although she did not eat it. Detectives are also looking for a sock that was missing from her body when it was discovered.

Police have said there was no evidence that Ms Yeates had been sexually assaulted, but they have not ruled out a sexual motive.

It is understood they are investigating whether Ms Yeates's body was taken from her home in a large bag or suitcase. It has also been claimed that police found three separate foreign DNA traces on different parts of her body.