Police fear killer may look for victims in other parts of the country

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The Independent Online

The man leading the hunt for the Ipswich serial killer warned yesterday that the murderer might strike in other parts of the country as it was confirmed that the fourth of five bodies to be found was that of the missing sex worker Paula Clennell.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull revealed that Suffolk police had urged neighbouring forces to implement preventative strategies to safeguard prostitutes in their areas.

The massive hunt for the killer, or killers, of five women was expanded even further yesterday, with as many as 350 police officers from nine forces working on five major murder inquiries.

Assistant Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer revealed that even more officers were expected to be drafted in, but remained adamant that Suffolk police could cope with the scale and the speed of the crimes.

Meanwhile, detectives confirmed that the first body removed from beside the A14 at Levington was - as expected - Miss Clennell, 24, and that she, like the third victim, Anneli Alderton, was apparently strangled to death. They added that the last sighting of Miss Clennell was at 12.20am on Sunday morning in Handford Road, around the town's red light district.

"It is quite possible Paula picked up a client or clients after this time who could have crucial information. I would appeal for them to come forward as a matter of urgency," Det Ch Supt Gull said.

For the first time investigators were able to describe what she wore on the night she disappeared. Ms Clennell was dressed in a navy blue anorak with a horizontal, light-blue band across the chest and one sleeve, a grey hooded top, light-coloured jeans with a pattern on the pocket and Reebok Classic trainers with a navy blue and grey flash.

The young woman, whose drug problem was said to have cost her up to £500 a day, had always believed she would die young, a friend said. In her last letter home, she described how she dreaded a lonely Christmas without her three daughters.

Her body was found by a walker on Tuesday afternoon near Levington village. A helicopter sent up to photograph the scene spotted another body, believed to be that of another prostitute, Annette Nicholls, 29.

A post mortem by the Home Office pathologist Nat Carey at Ipswich Hospital concluded that Miss Clennell died as a result of "compression to the neck". The second body was due to be removed from the site last night for a similar autopsy.

Detectives are still awaiting toxicology results for the first two victims, Gemma Adams, 25, and 19-year-old Tania Nicol. The fact that their bodies were left in water for some time has made it difficult to assess cause of death.

Yesterday, officers continued to sift through information from more than 5,500 calls and 1,000 e-mails - many of which have reported the discovery of discarded women's clothing, which will now be analysed to see if it belonged to any of the dead women. Investigators are also looking through hours of CCTV footage, as well as film from roadside cameras across the county and examining mobile phone records.

Detectives have already interviewed a number of known kerb crawlers and have appealed for anyone else who had visited the red light district to come forward before they receive "a knock on the door". To date, however, Det Ch Supt Gull said there had been no arrests or search warrants issued.

While the "striking similarities" led him to conclude that he was dealing with a single prolific killer, the senior detective said he could still not discount the possibility that they were dealing with more than one murderer.