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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
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.
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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.
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
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
"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
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
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.
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