Police make arrest in Kiszko miscarriage case

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The Independent Online

A new suspect has been arrested for the 1975 murder of an 11-year-old girl who was at the centre of one of the worst miscarriages of justice cases of modern times.

The 53-year-old man was being questioned by police yesterday after being arrested in Oldham, Greater Manchester, in connection with the stabbing to death of Lesley Molseed. The potential breakthrough is thought to be linked to the recovery of the killer's DNA on the body of the victim.

Lesley disappeared on 5 October 1975 after she left her home in Rochdale to buy a loaf of bread and air freshener from a shop.

Three days later, her body was discovered on open moorland just off the A672 in Ripponden, West Yorkshire. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed 12 times.

The ensuing investigation was the largest manhunt in Britain before the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry. Nearly 5,000 statements were taken and more than 12,000 people were spoken to within three months of the murder.

Stefan Kiszko, then aged 24, a tax clerk from Rochdale, was wrongly convicted of her murder and served 16 years in jail.

He was released from prison after an appeal in 1992 at which new evidence proved he could not have killed her - semen containing sperm was found on the girl's clothes which could not have come from Mr Kiszko, who was sterile. The civil servant died from a heart failure the year after his release at the age of 44. His mother, Charlotte, who had campaigned relentlessly to prove his innocence, died a few months after him.

The murder investigation was then reopened, but without immediate success.

But in 2003, detectives appealed on the BBC Crimewatch programme for information after advances in DNA technology provided a genetic profile of Lesley's killer. New testing techniques enabled a DNA profile to be obtained from semen left at the scene.

A list of about 350 suspects whom officers wanted to test was compiled by the police. Suspects were put into 10 categories. They included people who lived near Lesley's home, people with sex crime convictions, and people whose names have been put forward by the public.

The profile helped police to rule out several known sex offenders, including the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.

After the television appeal was broadcast, detectives took more than 250 calls with information, and said they had 90 new suspects.

At the time that she heard about the new DNA evidence, Lesley's mother, April, said she was "absolutely elated".

On Lesley's disappearance, she said: "After two hours, I knew she was gone. I could feel it in the whole of my body.

"And I never lost that feeling. It just grew stronger and stronger, and I thought, 'I'm never going to see her again'."

The man arrested yesterday in Oldham was taken to a police station in West Yorkshire where he was being questioned about the murder.