Cold case detectives 'refuse to give up' on catching Karen's killer

An Ipswich newsagent putting up the Evening Star murder poster in November 1993
after the death of

An Ipswich newsagent putting up the Evening Star murder poster in November 1993 after the death of Karen Hales

Cold case detectives are "refusing to give up" on catching the killer of an Ipswich mother who was brutally murdered nearly three decades ago. 

Karen Hales was stabbed to death at her home in Lavenham Road, Ipswich, in front of her daughter Emily on Sunday, November 21, 1993

Murder victim Karen Hales

Murder victim Karen Hales

An attempt had also been made to set the 21-year-old's body alight - but her killer has never been identified by police. 

At the time of the murder 28 years ago, there was snow on the ground and not many people on the streets. 

Her long-term partner, Peter Ruffles, had left the couple’s home to go to work at 3.50pm.

Darkness fell around 4pm and around 40 minutes later, Karen’s parents, Graham and Geraldine, called at the house and found the front door unlocked.

Karen Hales' family with Deputy Superintendent Andy Smith of Suffolk police in November 2018 Pict

Karen Hales' family with Deputy Superintendent Andy Smith of Suffolk police in November 2018 Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Archant

They entered to be confronted by the smell of smoke, before Mr Hales discovered his daughter’s body in the kitchen.

Despite a manhunt, extensive national media attention, and a £50,000 reward, the shop assistant’s killer has never been brought to justice. 

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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.

Advances in DNA analysis are unlikely to move the case on as most evidence was destroyed when Karen’s body was set alight.

Police at Karen Hales' home in 1993

Police at Karen Hales' home in 1993

Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Smith, the senior investigating officer for Operation Lavenham, said: “Karen and her family are very much in our thoughts at this time of year and we refuse to give up on catching her killer.

“I always hold out hope that the anniversary of Karen’s murder will cause the person or persons responsible for committing this abhorrent crime – or anyone with any information about it – to think on their conscience, do the right thing and contact us.

“It is my firm belief that somebody out there knows who is responsible and my message to them continues to be that it is never too late to come forward. Any information we receive will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

Karen Hales' grave Picture: ARCHANT

Karen Hales' grave Picture: ARCHANT

Anyone with information is asked to contact the joint Norfolk and Suffolk unsolved case team on 01953 423819 or via email here.

Alternatively, people can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111, or via the online form on the charity's website.

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