Police have DNA profile of hairdresser's killer

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Detectives are closing in on the killer of a trainee hairdresser 25 years ago as they revealed today that they have his DNA profile.

Colette Aram, 16, was abducted as she walked from her home to her boyfriend's house in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, on 30 October, 1983.

She was raped and then strangled before her naked body was dumped in a field just over a mile from where she went missing. Detectives found it the next day.

Despite the case being the first ever featured on Crimewatch and hundreds of officers being deployed to hunt for the killer, he was never caught.

Now Nottinghamshire Police say they have developed a DNA profile of the man who murdered Colette thanks to advancements in forensic technology.

The profile was formed last year after items recovered during the original murder investigation were re-examined using new forensic techniques.

Since then police have ruled out 1,500 possible suspects, including 800 men who were eliminated after the DNA profile of the killer was compared to their own mouth swabs.

Detectives have also investigated suspects who have died since the murder, as well as Robert Black, who is serving life for the rape and murder of three young girls in the 1980s. Following his conviction in 1994 he was implicated in Colette's murder.

Police want the public to come forward with the names of suspects who could be swabbed in what detectives describe as a "simple process".

As part of the investigation, officers will today start a publicity campaign, during which they will spend the next three weeks distributing leaflets reminding people about Colette's murder to 15,000 homes in south Nottinghamshire.

Det Supt Kevin Flint, who is leading the investigation code named Operation Odyssey, said: "In 1983 this was a massive investigation. Hundreds of police officers were dedicated to the inquiry.

"Not only did it affect Colette's family but the whole of Keyworth was hit by this tragedy. The response from the public was immense.

"I want to ask the public to listen to the account of Colette's family. For this to happen is a parent's worst fear - for your daughter to leave home to walk a short distance and never return and be found murdered in a field - you can never imagine the impact that has had on Colette's family and friends.

"They continue to think about it every day and have done for the last 25 years. The family deserve some form of closure after this length of time."

He added: "I am confident that we are doing everything we can to catch the killer. We continue to look at forensic opportunities and we have now got a DNA profile. That is a massive leap forward.

"We have been able to eliminate many people who were of interest over the years but I now need the public's help.

"People will have suspicions but we have not had the right name. My experience is that many people will not give information unless the police knock on the door.

"I want the public to see this publicity as the police knocking on their door. We can eliminate people via a simple process of providing their DNA on a swab."

Colette lived with her parents, hairdresser Jacquiline, 53, and 58-year-old joiner Tony, along with her brother Mark, who was 19 at the time, in Normanton Lane, Keyworth.

She was usually picked up by her boyfriend Russell Godfrey in his car but it was off the road at the time so at about 8pm on 30 October, 1983, she set off to walk the 20-minute, mile-long route to his house in the village.

At about 8.10pm she turned in to Nicker Hill and witnesses reported hearing a woman screaming before a car drove off at speed.

After frantic phone calls between Colette's parents and Mr Godfrey when Colette failed to arrive at his house, police were called at 10.30pm to help family and friends search for the teenager.

But it was not until 9am the next day that officers found her naked body dumped in a cropped field a mile-and-a-half from where she was abducted.

Her brother Mark saw the body surrounded by police officers, something Mr Flint says will live with him for the rest of his life.

Police say that as part of their developments they can now say for certain a red Ford Fiesta stolen shortly before the murder, and seen in Keyworth at the time Colette was abducted, was used by the killer.

Detectives say they also definitely know now that a man seen drinking orange juice and lemonade in the Generous Britain pub in the nearby village of Costock was the killer.

Their original investigation was helped when the case featured in 1984 as the main item on the first ever Crimewatch programme. But despite hundreds of leads the killer was never caught.

Police say the case was never closed but it was not until 2004 that officers began to actively follow up leads again after the investigation featured again on the 20th anniversary programme of Crimewatch.

Police received more than 400 calls then but say a lot of the information was incomplete and meant that often the names provided by anonymous callers could not be traced.

They want anyone who rang that show and only left limited details to get back in touch with more information.

Anyone with information can contact the incident room at Nottinghamshire Police on 0115 844 6992 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.