Daughter of murdered Ipswich woman Karen Hales thinks about her every day as 23-year-old cold case remains unsolved

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

On the 23rd anniversary of Ipswich mother Karen Hales’ unsolved murder, her family have spoken of their disappointment that police have been unable to find her killer.

Murder victim Karen Hales

Murder victim Karen Hales

The 21-year-old was murdered in front of her 18-month-old daughter Emily at their house in Lavenham Road, Ipswich, on Sunday, November 21, 1993.

Police have stressed they have not given up their search for the murderer.

However, Karen’s mother Geraldine, who lives in Barham, said: “We are so disappointed in the police because they haven’t come up with anything in 23 years.

“After 23 years we thought we would have some sort of answer by now.”

Police at Karen Hales' home in Lavenham Road

Police at Karen Hales' home in Lavenham Road

Karen’s daughter Emily, now aged 24, echoed her grandmother’s thoughts.

She said a review of the case and contact with the family by officers gave them hope something positive would happen.

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Emily said: “Me and my family are disappointed with the police.

“They got us back in to go through statements and add anything they could remember.

Karen Hales' grave

Karen Hales' grave

“We were having frequent phone calls and we felt let down by them as we haven’t heard anything since.”

Miss Hales’ fiancé Peter Ruffles had left the couple’s home at 3.50pm to go to work

Her body was discovered in the kitchen at around 4.40pm by her father Graham.

She had been stabbed numerous times and an attempt had been made to set her body alight.

Subsequently, detectives said they believe she had died between 3.50pm and 4.40pm.

Two Laser 7 knives were missing from her home after her death.

Police launched a large-scale inquiry, but despite two people being arrested in 1994, national television appeals, rewards, and heart-wrenching pleas from her family, no one has ever been charged.

Emily said: “I think about her every day. It’s hard. I don’t feel like I have had a normal family life.

“Although I was young, you have this picture in your mind of someone hurting your mum.

“When it gets to the time when it would have happened you think ‘this is when it happened’.

“It makes you feel upset and it’s a bit raw around the time.”

Emily and her grandmother ensure they go to visit Karen’s grave on the anniversary of her death.

“Every year we go up and put a flower arrangement on.

“It is upsetting when reading the words on the (head)stone.

“The time of year doesn’t help. That makes me cry and sets me off with everything else.”

Certain times of the year are more difficult than others though.

Emily said: “When it’s my birthday and when it is her birthday I think what we would have been doing that day. All that lays on my mind constantly. “

Asked what she would say to anyone who is concealing information which could help find her mother’s murderer Emily said: “Please come forward. I beg you.

“It would be closure for me and my family. It will not bring mum back, but at least someone would be going to pay for what they have done and it would certainly make us feel a lot better.

“If we were to know who did it, it would bring closure.”

Suffolk police pledged not to give up the hunt to find Karen Hales’ killer and said the case is constantly reviewed.

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith said; “This remains an open investigation and we will never give up trying to find her killer.

“This case has been subject of a number of reviews and, since the 20 year anniversary in 2013, we have renewed our efforts to speak to witnesses and have undertaken a significant staged submission of items for forensic testing, in the hope that scientific advances will provide a breakthrough in this case.

“The forensic examination of items relevant to Karen’s murder remains on-going.

“We have also deployed trained family liaison officers to ensure that Karen’s family have continuity in support and contact with Suffolk Police when they need it.

“I would repeat my appeal for witnesses or those with information on this case to come forward.

“Someone close to Karen’s killer, a friend or relative, may have noticed a change in their behaviour after the event and with the passing of time it may be that you now feel you can speak to us.

“We will follow any lines of enquiry highlighted and keep this case under constant review.

“If you have any information that for whatever reason you have not provided previously please make contact with us. We need the public’s help to solve this crime and to try to bring closure for Karen’s family.”

Calls should be made to the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major investigation Team on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.