Police reopen unsolved murder case after 20 years

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The Independent Online

The unsolved murder of a young woman who was found naked on a motorcycle racing track more than 20 years ago has been reopened after a breakthrough in the gathering of DNA evidence.

Elaine Wakefield was discovered by race organisers who were preparing for a meeting on 27 February 1982 at High Edge Raceway, six miles from Buxton, Derbyshire. The 20-year-old, who was the girlfriend of a police officer, was wearing only a bra, and her clothes were scattered across the track 200 yards away.

Shortly after the murder the woman's boyfriend, who was 33, resigned from the police and left the area. He has been interviewed again and has given a DNA sample. There are other suspects in the new investigation, in which samples of body fluids taken from the murder scene have been re-examined.

Post-mortem tests revealed Ms Wakefield was killed by compression to her neck but an inquest later returned an open verdict. Police, who treated the case as a murder, said the injury was consistent with pressure being applied to a vein in the neck, sometimes used to heighten sexual arousal. A lengthy investigation at the time followed up 1,000 leads and took 737 statements but failed to result in any charges.

Police reopened the case several months ago and as in many similar unsolved murders sent the victim's clothing to the Forensic Science Service for a new examination. Advances in forensic analysis allow specialists to recover DNA from tiny samples of blood, skin, hair and semen that would previously have been missed.