Man is held after DNA check on 1990 murder

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The Independent Online

A man was arrested yesterday on suspicion of the murder of a 26-year-old woman who was raped and stabbed more than 10 years ago. Geraldine Palk's near-naked body was found in a stream in Fairwater, Cardiff, yards from her home, in December 1990.

The killing sparked one of the world's biggest DNA-testing operations, involving nearly 5,000 men, as the police kept the case open.

Yesterday officers from South Wales Police travelled to Devon to arrest the man, who was being interviewed at Fairwater police station in Cardiff.

Police said the 34-year-old suspect was arrested at the gates of Dartmoor prison in Devon after a routine DNA test linked him to the unsolved murder.

Ms Palk, a secretary, was walking home from her office party when she was attacked near her front door. Her naked and battered body – with more than 80 stab wounds – was left in a ditch .

DNA traces were found at the scene of the attack in Fairwater, Cardiff, and police always said it was their best hope of bringing the killer to justice.

At the time, police DNAtested more than 5,000 men in Cardiff but the suspect had already left the area and was not included in the sweep, among the biggest in British criminal history.

When the man was in Dartmoor, he was given a DNA test as part of routine screening of prisoners. Detectives acted on the results.

Forty officers are working on the inquiry and police are urging anyone with any information to come forward.

"Geraldine was tragically murdered more than 10 years ago but we have remained fully committed to progressing the inquiry and we have worked hard to investigate any fresh information," said Detective Chief Superintendent Wynne Phillips, of South Wales Police, who is leading the investigation. But we always need support and help from the public and I appeal once again to anyone who may have information about Geraldine's death to contact us immediately."

Ms Palk's death began a tragic sequence of events for the Palk family who lived in Fairwater, Cardiff.

Her mother Cynthia, 61, who never got over her daughter's death, was knocked down and killed by a car as she walked past the spot where Geraldine was murdered. Her father Les died the following year.

Only two of the Palk children are left. Geraldine's brother Neil, said: "We have endured more than 10 long years since Geraldine's death and we are struggling to come to terms with this news. Since my sister's death we have lost our mother and father – it has been a terrible strain.

"We welcome the news that there has been an arrest and are waiting for more information from the police."

Mr Palk urged anyone with information about the murder, committed shortly before Christmas, to contact the murder squad.

"There must be someone who knows something and, for whatever reason, has not come forward," he said.

"Now is the time to do so – please get in touch with officers now."