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New Fears A Serial Killer Is On A Spree

IN the light of day, it is a picture of tranquillity, a throwback to a gentler England, with its lush, tree-lined lawn and pitches, the most violence Twickenham Green normally sees is the occasional thwack of willow on leather in a cricket match.
But a growing pile of bouquets and scrawled messages lie as testimony to a moment of horror that has spread disquiet through this wealthy west London commuter enclave.
It was here, beside the cricket pitch, that French student Amelie Delegrange was battered to death shortly after 10pm on August 19.
The killing itself is not especially unusual in a city that has more than 200 murders among some 180,000 violent attacks every year.
Amelie's was the fifth attack on a blonde woman in the borough in the past 19 months, and the second murder, after the bludgeoning of 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell in February.
A 15-year-old arrested earlier this year was the chief suspect, but he was in custody during Amelie's attack and during a similar attack on 34-year-old Edel Harbison.
There is a disturbing pattern to the attacks. Each time, the assailant has approached his lone victim from behind and used a blunt object to attack.
The murder weapons have not been found. Police say it could have been any number of items - bricks, bats, lumps of wood, a pole or a hammer.
Another seemingly random murder - this time of 28-year-old Tom Brown on a North London street early on Saturday, less than two days after Amelie's killing - increased fears a serial killer may be behind the attacks.
Publicly, police will not rule out a connection between the five attacks around Twickenham. A taskforce has been assembled, including Scotland Yard's top psychologists, experts in profiling.
It appeared the killer had left frustratingly few clues. There were no witnesses to Amelie's death, no closed circuit TV images of him in the area and no traces of DNA-on the victim.
"He may be emotionally retarded but there is every indication that intellectually he is very shrewd," said Simon Meyerson, the director of the criminal profile unit at the London Institute of Psychology.
"The cleanliness and brutality of the blows indicates the physical strength of a man, but he's probably never entered into adolescent sexuality," Dr Meyerson said. "He can't face the woman head on."
Surveillance footage of Amelie on the bus she caught home from the Cristalz Bar in Twickenham has been released.
A team of 60 officers spent three days searching a bungalow in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey - about 8km from the murder - after a weekend tip-off.
Then, on Tuesday afternoon, a breakthrough.
Police divers scouring the Thames just metres from the bungalow found Amelie's purse, flat keys and CD player.
Detectives were led to the stretch of river by a transmitter signal from Amelie's mobile.
While the phone itself was not found, police said the divers had made 'a very significant discovery".

Adelaide Advertiser (28-8-2004)
Ben English

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