Murdered architect Joanna Yeates 'was not sexually assaulted'

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Police hunting the killer of Joanna Yeates have found no evidence she was sexually assaulted but tonight said they were unable to rule out a sexual motive to her murder.

Detectives also appealed for help in tracing a 4x4 vehicle seen near to where her snow-covered body was discovered on Christmas Day as they revealed they still do not know when and where the 25-year-old landscape architect died.



Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones, from Avon and Somerset police, said: "At this stage there is no evidence to suggest that Joanna was sexually assaulted. However, I have not ruled out that there might have been a sexual motive."



Appealing for help in finding the 4x4, he said: "We have had a number of reports of vehicles in Longwood Lane during the late Friday evening and early hours of Saturday morning, including a possibly light-coloured 4x4 vehicle.



"This 4x4 and the other vehicles may be completely unconnected but I urge anyone in that car or any other driver in the vicinity that night to come forward," he said.



Speaking during a press conference, he revealed that there were still significant gaps regarding Miss Yeates's final hours.



DCI Jones added: "I am satisfied that Jo got back to her flat but I'm not able to speculate whether she let somebody into the flat, whether somebody was already in there or whether someone broke into the flat.



"At this time I cannot say where or when Jo was killed, or when her body was left on Longwood Lane.



"The significant snowfall in the early hours of Saturday December 18 has a considerable impact on this and I am working with numerous forensic specialists to determine the timings."



DCI Jones also raised the possibility of there being more than one person responsible when he told the press conference: "I can assure you, we are determined to solve this crime, and bring Jo's killers to justice."



When asked about this comment later, he said: "I think that phrase emphasises that I am not making any assumptions in this case."



Police have warned women not to walk home alone after dark following the discovery of Miss Yeates'[s body on Christmas Day.



Her landlord Chris Jefferies, the only person to be arrested as part of the investigation so far, was freed on police bail pending further inquiries.



The 65-year-old was detained on suspicion of the murder on Thursday and held until Saturday night, when he was released.



Increased patrols are being maintained in the up-market Clifton area where Miss Yeates lived with her boyfriend Greg Reardon, 27, to reassure the public.



Police have given assurances that there was nothing to suggest the murderer was a serial killer or that the public should be extra-worried.



Miss Yeates was last seen on the evening of Friday December 17 after she had been drinking with colleagues in the Ram pub in Park Street.











Her body was found by dog walkers in Failand, North Somerset, on Christmas Day. She had been strangled.

DCI Jones also revealed the huge amount of information detectives were sifting through as the investigation entered its third week.



He said the pizza and the cider that Miss Yeates bought on the night she disappeared remained of interest to police.



Officers have searched through 293 tonnes of domestic rubbish to find the pizza, and said it is not clear at this stage whether the landscape architect had eaten it.



"This is potentially a long and complex inquiry, involving over 70 police officers and staff.



"No stone will be left unturned in this investigation."



He said the police had received more than 1,300 pieces of information, and 900 lines of inquiry have been generated, of which 239 were classed as "high priority".



More than 100 hours of CCTV footage has been viewed, and further footage is being investigated.