Man arrested over prostitute murder

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The Independent Online

A 42-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a prostitute whose strangled body was found in a burned-out flat, police said today.

Detectives launched a murder inquiry after Andrea Waddell's body was found by firefighters shortly before midnight on Thursday in the first floor flat in Upper Lewes Road, Brighton.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said today: "Police officers last night arrested a man in connection with the murder of 29-year-old Andrea Waddell, whose body was found at her flat in Upper Lewes Road, Brighton, on Thursday evening.

"The 42-year-old from Brighton is currently in police custody and will be interviewed by detectives today."

Last night it emerged that Ms Waddell, who grew up in Reading, Berkshire, had undergone gender surgery to become a woman while studying for a master's degree at the University of Sussex.

In a statement released by Sussex Police, Ms Waddell's family said she was born Alexander John, but saw a psychiatrist after developing ambivalent gender feelings as a teenager.

She began hormone treatment while studying philosophy at Durham University and ended her three-year course as Andrea Joanna, before undergoing gender surgery while studying for a master's degree in social and political thought.

During this time Ms Waddell nearly died after developing acute ulcerative colitis but continued to live "incapacitated by pain but fiercely independent", the statement from her parents, Sonia and Robin, and brother Nick, read.

It ended: "We know she is now finally free of this pain and at peace."

At a press conference at Brighton police station yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Adam Hibbert, who is leading the inquiry, appealed for other members of Brighton's sex industry to come forward if they had information about Ms Waddell's death.

He would not disclose what Ms Waddell was strangled with or whether her body was set on fire.

The officer added that she was "discreet" about her work as a prostitute, but was known to sometimes take clients home with her to the one-bedroom flat where she was believed to live alone.

Mr Hibbert said Ms Waddell, who moved to the city around five years ago, was a sociable girl who was well known in Brighton but led a relatively private life.

She was not known to drink or take any drugs and was described as "very close" to her family.

Forensics officers were expected to be at the flat for many days, he said, and it was not yet known how the fire started or whether it was deliberate.

Ms Waddell was last seen alive some time on Thursday but police would not comment on when or where.

Her car, a Suzuki Wagon, has been towed away by officers for examination.

Detectives are continuing to appeal for witnesses and anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area or who has any information about the incident is urged to contact Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999, quoting Operation Merewood.