Man found hanged may have killed waitress: Note 'describes Salcombe murder'

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The Independent Online
DETECTIVES investigating the rape and murder of Sandra Parkinson, the hotel waitress killed in Devon last month, are examining a man's body found in Cambridgeshire and a suicide note with details of the killing.

Officers from Devon and Cornwall have not revealed the identity of the 33-year-old traveller, found hanging from a tree, but witnesses have said that they saw him on the cliff-top path at Salcombe, near where she was murdered on the day of the killing.

CID officers from the murder squad, which has already positively linked the 22-year- old waitress's murder to the rape of a former magistrate in Shropshire, disclosed that they went to Cambridgeshire last Sunday just after the body was discovered by a member of the public. They have scheduled a news conference for Monday to give the results of forensic science tests.

Yesterday, however, John Evans, Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, sounded a note of caution by saying that the information in the note could all have been gleaned from the media.

But the police also stressed that although the suicide note was the 'very strong link', they would be vigorously pursuing other lines of inquiry into the death of Miss Parkinson, who was raped, gagged and strangled and found naked on the path at Sharpitor, near Salcombe, after going for a walk on her afternoon off from the Grafton Tower Hotel.

One of the lines of inquiry involves checks to see whether the red-haired Miss Parkinson, from Stevenston, Ayrshire, whose body was found on 20 July, had placed adverts in lonely hearts columns as she had done the previous year.

Last Monday, though, officers revealed that forensic science tests had linked the man who carried out her murder to the attacker who raped the twice-widowed Muriel Harvey as she returned from midnight Mass on Christmas Day 1992.

Yesterday, Mr Evans said that officers were in constant touch with their colleagues in the Cambridgeshire force over the discovery of the man, believed to be from Yorkshire originally, whose body was found in a field at Brampton, near Huntingdon. 'I think it is fair to say that this is the most signifcant breakthrough in this inquiry so far,' he said.

Supt Phil Pyke, leading the murder investigation, said: 'Our inquiries indicate that the man was in Salcombe on that day and his description is very similar to that of a man seen on the coastal path on the day of the murder.'

(Photograph omitted)