Police pledge to do 'all it takes' to find bodies

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The Independent Online

Police investigating the murders of three prostitutes pledged today to do all it takes to locate the bodies of Susan Rushworth and Shelley Armitage.

A small piece of human tissue belonging to 31-year-old Ms Armitage was found in the River Aire, in Shipley, West Yorkshire, last weekend, but her body, and that of Ms Rushworth, has not been recovered.

Body parts belonging to a third woman, Suzanne Blamires, were recovered from the river on May 25.

Criminology student Stephen Griffiths, 40, from Holmfield Court, Thornton Road, Bradford, has been charged with the murders of the three women, who all went missing from the city.

Griffiths described himself as the "crossbow cannibal" when he appeared in court last week and will next appear before Bradford Crown Court, by video link from Wakefield Prison, on June 7.

Today West Yorkshire Police said more than 130 staff, including 60 murder squad detectives and 70 specialist search officers, were continuing to search the river and Griffiths' flat, on the edge of Bradford's red light district.

A police spokesman described the investigation as "lengthy, detailed and painstaking".

"Police have pledged to continue doing all it takes to locate the bodies of Susan Rushworth and Shelley Armitage as detailed searches continue," the spokesman said.

"No significant developments have taken place in the case since the discovery of partial remains of Shelley Armitage, but officers continue to recover items from the river and follow proactive lines of inquiry.

"Items which are being recovered are being examined by colleagues from the Forensic Science Service at specialist labs in Wetherby, together with further help from labs at London and Birmingham to make sure all available resources are used to speed up the investigation.

"West Yorkshire Police wish to stress that to search the locations with the level of care and thoroughness which is required will be a lengthy process."

Earlier this week, police said remains recovered from the river on May 28 were animal and not human.

A suitcase containing tools was found on Saturday and will undergo tests once it has dried out.

Police thanked residents and businesses for their "understanding and support" during the disruption caused by the searches and said full support was being provided to the families of the three women.

Ms Rushworth, 43, went missing in June last year, Ms Armitage disappeared on April 26 and Ms Blamires, 36, had not been seen since May 21.

All three women worked as prostitutes in Bradford and lived in the city.

Griffiths, who was arrested at his flat on May 24, is charged with murdering Ms Rushworth between June 22 2009 and May 25 this year, murdering Ms Armitage between April 25 and May 25 and murdering Ms Blamires between May 20 and May 25.