Agony goes on for murdered mum's family

IT is 14 years since the brutal murder of Karen Hales - and today the Ipswich mum's desperate parents spoke of their anger after detectives admitted they are no nearer to catching her killer.

IT is 14 years since the brutal murder of Karen Hales - and today the Ipswich mum's desperate parents spoke of their anger after detectives admitted they are no nearer to catching her killer.

On November 21, 1993, the 21-year-old was stabbed to death and then set alight in her Lavenham Road home in front of her 18-month-old daughter, Emily.

Despite a huge police operation, intense media interest, and a £50,000 reward offered by an Evening Star-led consortium, the perpetrator of the horrific killing has never been caught.

Today, Geraldine and Graham Hales admitted that as the years pass, it has become less likely they will see their daughter's murderer brought to justice.


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Mrs Hales said: “I keep hoping and that's all I can do.

“But the longer it goes on, you sometimes wonder if there will ever be an answer.

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“It's not just the anniversary which brings it home because it never goes away, but in a sense it brings it to the fore.

“I would say we feel anger rather than frustration because it's the same old story every year.

“The police are just as frustrated because they have no answers, either.”

Mrs Hales admitted that Karen's daughter Emily, now 15, is inquisitive about her mum.

“Emily always said she would speak to the police when she was older and it's something she will do when she feels up to it.

“She talks about her mum sometimes. It happens to us both - if we are chatting Karen often crops up in conversation.

“Emily misses her, as we all do.”

Fresh hope was breathed into the flagging investigation two years ago when the Star put up a cash reward to find the killer.

But while police received a number of calls, detectives were unable to move the enquiry on.

Mrs Hales said: “All that money was raised but no one came forward. I thought the reward would have brought us some answers, but it didn't.

“Going through it again two years ago was awful. It was so hard, but we did it for Karen.”

In a direct appeal to those with information on her daughter's murder, Mrs Hales said: “Whatever you know, speak up now and tell the police.

“I still maintain somebody knows something. We need to know what happened.”

The 2005 £50,000 appeal was financially backed by Suffolk police, Ipswich businessman Ray Sallows, Call Connection, Ipswich Borough Council, AXA, Elizabeth hotels, the Ipswich Partnership, SnOasis and the Galley restaurants.

Do you have a message of support for the Hales family? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Anyone with information on the murder should call Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

DETECTIVE superintendent Andy Henwood has been in charge of the investigation since April, following the retirement of Detective Superintendent Roy Lambert.

Today, Det Supt Henwood said he was still hopeful Karen Hales' killer would be caught.

“The case remains open,” he said. “We occasionally have new leads brought to our attention and the coverage that The Evening Star is able to give the anniversary of the murder is always helpful in jogging people's memories.

“We are keen to pursue any new lines of enquiry and we are keen to hear from members of the public with any information they may have.”

However, Det Supt Henwood, who has already met with Karen's parents, admitted that since the £50,000 reward was offered two years ago the case had remained static.

“Unfortunately all the lines of enquiry we have pursued since the launch of the reward have proved fruitless,” he said.

SUFFOLK police's investigation into the murder was one of the biggest ever undertaken by the force.

But despite taking more than 600 witness statements, the 25-strong team of detectives drew a blank in finding the killer.

Two people were arrested and released without charge, an E-fit of the killer was released but no motive for the killing was ever established.

One man police are particularly keen to eliminate from their inquiries is a walker seen in an alleyway between Lavenham Road and London Road and at three points in London Road about the time of the murder.

He was aged in his 20s or 30s and was wearing a blue parka coat with a fur-lined hood covering his head some of the time. He is described as being slim and about 6ft.

Timeline

Sunday, November 21, 1993: Karen Hales' fiancé, Peter Ruffles, left the couple's home in Lavenham Road at 3.50pm to go to work. Between 3.50pm and 4.40pm, Karen was stabbed to death and her body set alight. Her father, Graham, discovered her body at 4.40pm.

Friday, November 25, 1993: Officers revealed Miss Hales could have been killed with two Laser 7 knives that were missing from her home.

January 5, 1994: A man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of murder.

January 7, 1994: The man was released without charge.

January 11, 1994: Police questioned a 30-year-old but released him the following day.

February 9, 1994: Miss Hales' funeral was held at St Mary and St Peter Church, Barham - the village where she grew up.

June 20, 1994: Police closed the incident room set up to investigate the murder, but pledged to continue the hunt for the killer.

November 17, 1997: The first criminal profile of the killer was released by police, indicating that Karen probably knew her killer.

November 21, 2002: The Star reveals a small amount of vomit found on Miss Hales' body could be DNA tested.

March 24, 2004: After testing, the vomit reveals only a partial profile of Miss Hales' DNA.

November 21, 2005: A £50,000 appeal is launched for information leading to the conviction of Karen's killer.

November 21, 2007: Karen's parents reissue their appeal for information into their daughter's murder.

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