Serial killer hunt continues

The murders by a suspected serial killer in the eastern port town of Ipswich have also triggered a strong emotional reaction, with prayers in local churches on Sunday and soccer fans observing a minute’s silence at a game on Saturday.

Suffolk Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull, leading the probe, told a press conference on Sunday that no arrests had been made and there were no suspects in the case yet, but praised the public’s “phenomenal response”.

Police were studying information based on the calls, Chief Supt Gull said.

Among them were 60 calls received since Saturday’s release of closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showing the last known movements of murdered prostitute Anneli Alderton, 24, who was three months pregnant.

The pictures, showing the pony-tailed blonde in a black jacket and blue jeans on a train a week before the discovery of her strangled body on December 10, were released in a bid to jog the memories of witnesses.

Police officers also travelled on the same train that Ms Alderton boarded two weeks ago, speaking to passengers on board and on the platform, in the hope that they may have had important information.

“We need to find the clothing we see in the TV footage,” Chief Supt Gull said, adding a team had been set up to examine items of discarded clothing.

The bodies of all five drug-using prostitutes were found naked on the outskirts of Ipswich, a town of 140,000 people about 140 kilometres northeast of London, between December 2 and December 12.

Though naked, none showed signs of having been subjected to significant trauma or serious sexual assault, fueling speculation that the murderer or murderers might have been a drug dealer who doped them.

Police were awaiting toxicology results that can take weeks.

Chief Supt Gull said police had also released CCTV footage of Tania Nicol, 19, while searching 10,000 hours of footage in the hope of finding images of the other three women: Gemma Adams, 25, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

Though footage was not available for all of them, he said officers were confident that they knew what the women were wearing when they disappeared, which would help determine where they were last seen alive.

Police also spoke on Saturday night to more than 400 motorists and pedestrians in Ipswich’s red-light district in an effort to learn about the women’s final days.

The Observer newspaper said police were no longer looking for a murder weapon, claiming that the killer is now thought to have used his bare hands, but Chief Supt Gull declined to rule out whether a weapon had been used.

Gull said that almost 500 officers were working in one of Britain’s biggest ever manhunts, with 350 being drafted in from 31 police forces around the country, including Northern Ireland, to help Suffolk police.

As Britain’s media continues its fevered coverage of the case, the News of the World tabloid reported on Sunday that an unnamed senior police officer was a client of two of the dead women, although it only named Paula Clennell.

Suffolk Police said they could not comment on the report.

Meanwhile prayers were said on Sunday for the murdered women at churches across Suffolk and in the heart of Ipswich’s red light district 25,000 football fans at Ipswich Town’s ground observed a minute’s silence and prayed before Saturday’s Championship match with Leeds United.

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