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Worker Held Over Killings

BRITISH police have arrested a 37-year-old man suspected of murdering five prostitutes in a serial-killer case that has gripped the nation.
The suspect, identified by media reports as local supermarket worker Tom Stephens, was arrested at his home in Trimley, a few kilometres outside the port town of Ipswich, Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull said.
Police, however, have refused to name the man they arrested.
At the weekend, Stephens gave a newspaper interview in which he insisted he was innocent but admitted being unable to explain where he was at the times of the killings.
"I don't have alibis for some of the times. Actually I'm not entirely sure I have tight alibis for any of the times," he told the Sunday Mirror.
But he insisted, "I know I am innocent and I am completely confident it won't go as far as me being charged."
Today's arrest came after police found the bodies of five prostitutes - Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton and Paula Clennell, both 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29 - within the space of 10 days.
The village where the arrest took place is just a few kilometres south-east of Ipswich and very near Levington, where the bodies of the last two victims, Clennell and Nicholls, were found nearly a week ago.
The case has triggered comparisons with the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who was convicted of murdering 13 women between 1975 and 1980, and Jack the Ripper, who killed five London prostitutes in 1888.
All the Ipswich bodies were found naked in countryside on the outskirts of the town, 130km north-east of London, sparking fears of a serial killer on the loose.
None showed signs of significant trauma or serious sexual assault before dying, fuelling speculation the killer might have been a drug dealer who doped them.
The arrested suspect, who has not been charged, was taken to a police station somewhere in the county of Suffolk for questioning.
In the Sunday Mirror, Stephens described himself as "sad and lonely" and admitted he was "a friend of all the girls".
"I would have complete opportunity, the girls would have trusted me so much," he said.
"If I had blindfolded them and taken them to the edge of a cliff and said take two steps but take three steps and you'll go over, they would have taken the two steps."
Sky News reported that Stephens had previously been a special constable.
Stephens had created his own profile on the MySpace website, where he gave himself the nickname "The Bishop" and described his interests as "keeping fit" and "most types of days/nights out".
Neighbours described him as "tall, thin and strange".
"He was a bit of a weirdo," said Lesley-Anne Barber, 50, whose garden backs onto his in the quiet village of Trimley.
"He didn't seem the sort of person that would want to have anything to do with anyone," she said, adding that soon after he moved in three months ago, he put up a shed in his back garden.
"If he went to the back to the dustbins he would not acknowledge that we were there," she said.
It also emerged today that a 17-year-old girl, Vicky Hall, was found strangled in a ditch in the next village to Trimley in 1999 after a night out. One of the five prostitute victims was strangled, another died of compression of the neck.
Nearly 10,000 calls from members of the public have been received by the investigating team, who are also trawling through 10,000 hours of CCTV footage in the hope of piecing together the final movements of the women.

news.com.au (19-12-2006)


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Serial Killer Dares Police

THE Suffolk Strangler's toll of victims rose to five yesterday as fears emerged he was playing a macabre game of catch-me-if-you-can with police.
Two naked bodies, believed to be those of missing vice-girls Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls, were discovered on farmland near a busy dual carriageway.
Detectives were racing to find the maniac stalking the streets of Ipswich before he struck again.
His toll of five victims in six weeks was unprecedented in its speed.
Officers feared he was challenging them by snatching prostitutes and dumping their bodies almost under their noses.
The bodies found yesterday in the village of Levington, near Ipswich, were left in open view just 2km from the woodland where another victim was discovered.
Behavioural experts believed the killer might have a grudge against police and be seeking to make them look inept.
There were additional fears with Ipswich's red light district now swamped with officers, he would look further afield for any woman out late. Senior officers from Scotland Yard yesterday were drafted in to help Suffolk Police cope. The bodies of Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, and the two latest victims were found in the space of 10 days. While the first three were not found for weeks, Paula Clennell was found just three days after she was last seen. In a chilling twist, it emerged Miss Clennell, 24, had spoken of her fears she would be the killer's next victim.
Miss Clennell, a drug addict and mother of three, believed her friend, Gemma Adams, might have been killed by one of the thousands of migrant workers who arrived in East Anglia looking for work.
She had several "bad experiences" with migrants, she said. They "think they can do anything to a woman and get away with it".
Ipswich was just 16km from the international ferry port of Felixstowe. One theory was that the killer could be an immigrant worker.
Another possibility was he was a truck driver who by now might have slipped out of the country, via Felixstowe or neighbouring Harwich.
Detectives were convinced the culprit had killed before and might have convictions. If he was from overseas he would not be known to British police.
As the investigation grew into one of Britain's biggest murder hunts, the worst fears of police were realised just hours after Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull spoke of his "grave concerns" for the safety of Miss Clennell and Miss Nicholls.
The bodies were discovered near the junction of the A14 and A12 dual carriageways, used by tens of thousands of motorists each day. The bodies of Gemma Adams and Tania Nicol also were found near the A14, both in the same stream at Hintlesham and nearby Copdock Mill. Miss Clennell had only been missing since Saturday and had phoned a friend at 10.30pm on Sunday.
That meant police could narrow down the search of thousands of hours' worth of CC-TV footage from all cameras overlooking the A14 and A12 which they had seized for an image of the killer's car.
Police believed the killer stripped the victims' bodies to dispose of clues which could have implicated him. They were confident of recovering DNA traces.

AAP (14-12-2006)
Gordon Rayner/ Stephen Wright

Two More Prostitutes Killed

BRITISH police hunting a possible serial killer targeting prostitutes have found two more bodies, taking to total to five in the past 10 days.
The head of the small local police force said his detectives were facing an "unprecedented" investigation as they attempted to solve five murders in and around Ipswich in eastern England.
"I can confirm this afternoon two bodies have been found," said Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull.
He said the bodies were probably those of missing prostitutes Paula Clennell, 24, who has not been seen since Saturday, and of 29-year-old Annette Nicholls, who has been missing for at least a week.
"The natural assumption that these are the two missing women Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell. That's an assumption and that's yet to be confirmed," he told reporters.
The bodies were found in the Nacton area to the east of the town close to where the naked body of Anneli Alderton, 24, was discovered in woodland on Sunday.
A walker found the first naked woman's body about 6 metres from a road. Just 40 minutes later, a police helicopter crew member sent to the scene spotted a second body a few hundred metres from the first.
The fast-moving developments and the rapid discovery of so many victims has terrified locals in the provincial town in eastern England and raised fears that another "Ripper" targeting prostitutes is on the loose.
The most notorious such killer was the 19th century murderer known as "Jack the Ripper", who was blamed for the deaths of five prostitutes in east London in 1888 but was never found.
The most prolific was Peter Sutcliffe, called the "Yorkshire Ripper", who murdered 13 women, mainly prostitutes, in northern England from 1975 to 1980 before he was caught.
"No-one has ever had to deal with this before," said Alastair McWhirter, chief constable of Suffolk Police.
"If you think back to the Yorkshire Ripper, that was over weeks and months that those murders took place. This is unprecedented and we are dealing with it," he added.
The massive police inquiry began on December 2 when the body of Gemma Adams, 25, was found in a stream in the west of the town. Police divers then discovered 19-year-old Tania Nicol in the same stretch of water on December. 8.
Officers are still only officially linking these two murders but say there are similarities with the death of the third prostitute Alderton.
She was found strangled but there were no signs that Adams and Nicol were asphyxiated.
Police have warned prostitutes to stay off the streets and women have been advised not to go out alone.
Earlier today, Gull said he believed sex workers might have vital information that could help identify the murderer.
"I am convinced the working prostitutes in Ipswich probably hold the key as to who is responsible," he said.

AAP (13-12-2006)


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