Suffolk Murders: What is the truth behind the latest speculation?

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With Suffolk Police unable or unwilling to offer up many clues as to the identity of the killer or the killers of the five women, there has been increasing hysteria surrounding the case and speculation is rife. A confusing array of theories have been put forward but many appear flawed.


A colleague of Anneli Alderton insists she saw the 24-year-old get into a dark blue BMW in Handford Road, on the night of Thursday 7 December, with a man described as chubby with glasses and short dark hair. Lou, 28, said she gave a statement to that effect to detectives. Police said yesterday that they were trying to find the woman to establish the facts. But, the timings clash with what is believed to have been the first sighting of the third victim's body earlier that day. A motorist reported seeing the body at Nacton at 10.30am that day - three days before it was discovered - but dismissed it as a mannequin. Detectives say they are "pretty confident" it was Anneli's body.


It has been claimed that the killer left a "calling card". All five victims were naked but still wearing jewellery. But, Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull said yesterday that while Gemma Adams, 25, and Tania Nicol, 19, were still wearing jewellery he was not aware that was the case with the last three victims.


There have been repeated attempts to link the latest killing spree with the deaths of prostitutes in the past few years in adjoining counties. Most specifically it was reported that there was a strong link with the death of 16-year-old sex-worker Natalie Pearman who was strangled in Norwich 14 years ago. It was claimed the latest victims' body hair had been shaved as was the case with the 1992 murder.

The link has been denied by Natalie's mother, Lin Pearman, and detectives, who are adamant that though previous cases are being examined no concrete connection has been found. Mr Gull said that none of the current victims had been shaved though Tania and Gemma had lost some head hair as a result of being left in water.


Many of Ipswich's residents remain convinced the killer is local as the locations where the bodies were dumped would only be known to someone familiar with the area. This is compounded by assertions from those working in the town's red-light district that it must have been a regular client as three of the women disappeared following the initial publicity, warning them not to get into cars with strangers. Detectives concede there is a likelihood the killer could be local and are attempting to track down and speak to regular kerb crawlers. They do point out, however, that the bodies were all found near the main A14 and A12 trunk roads which cross the county. The last three victims may have arranged by telephone to meet the person who led them to their deaths, said MrGull. He added they still could not rule out the possibility that they are dealing with more than one murderer.


It has been suggested that Paula Clennell's killer may have used her phone to reply to a text message on the day she vanished. Mobile phone evidence has often proved crucial in other cases such as the investigation into the murders of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. While detectives concede that mobile evidence could prove crucial, they have yet to track down any handsets and are only certain that Gemma and Tania were in possession of phones. Nevertheless in her last letter to her mother Isabella, Paula, 24, gave her a new number.


It has been mooted that a handbag and women's clothing found in or near the River Orwell may be some of the women's discarded belongings. Police have received numerous calls about abandoned garments but say it is too early to assess whether any can be linked to the five victims.

MrGull described items worn by Gemma, Tania and Paula when they disappeared but said they did not know how the other two including Annette Nicholls, 29, were dressed.

A team continues to trawl through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage though the only image found so far is one of Tania shortly before she went missing.

There have also been apparent sightings of the women after they disappeared. Police say they are treating every piece of information seriously but, with 5,500 calls and more than 1,000 e-mails, they must prioritise information.