Detectives fielding thousands of calls

POLICE have today confirmed that one of the two women whose bodies were found in Levington was murdered by compression to the neck.

POLICE have today confirmed that one of the two women whose bodies were found in Levington was murdered by compression to the neck.

Detectives are yet to reveal the identities of the women but the Suffolk Strangler's latest victims are believed to be Annette Nicholls, 29, and Paula Clennell, 24.

Police today revealed they had received more than 5,500 calls and 1,000 e-mails in the last 48 hours and now face the painstaking task of filtering out vital information.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull overseeing the inquiry said: “Clearly that number of calls presents us with a challenge. “They are not all coming into Suffolk headquarters and they are being managed across the region. We have a regional computerised network to be able to deal with these calls.

“It's a question of assessing and filtering these and picking up those that look interesting. What we have here is almost like a live Crimewatch programme but Crimewatch lasts for an hour and we are in our fourth or fifth day.”

Shortly before 11.30am today police swooped into action as part of the investigation after a tip off from a member of the public alerted them to blood soaked paper towels in a hedge.

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The towels were bagged up and taken away as evidence.

Reports were also coming in that an area of Onehouse Road in Stowmarket was cordoned off, but this had not been confirmed by police.

Eight forces are currently dealing with the huge number of calls and 244 officers have been drafted in from elsewhere - that number is expected to climb to more than 300. The inquiry is unprecedented in Suffolk with five bodies discovered in ten days.

The last two bodies were found within a mile of where Anneli Alderton's body was discovered in Nacton on Sunday.

Asked whether police felt the killer was taunting them by dumping the bodies close by, det chf supt Gull said he did not believe so.

He said: “The person responsible might have wanted us to find those bodies.”

The cause of death of Tania Nicol, 19, and Gemma Adams, 25 is still not known and tests are continuing to establish the cause.

Miss Alderton, 24, whose body was found on Sunday, died of asphyxiation.

Police have still not ruled out poisoning or the possibility that the first two victims were injected with drugs.

Det chf supt Gull said officers are keen to establish where all five women, who were drug users, got their supply from as part of their inquiry.

He said the drug and alcohol action team was also currently working with 13 prostitutes to try to help them off the streets.

Elsewhere, Lin Pearman, the mother of 16-year-old Norfolk prostitute, Natalie Pearman who was murdered in 1992 has downplayed suggestions police are probing a link between her daughter's death and the recent murders and said she had not been contacted by police.

Detectives investigating the series of murders will be speaking to police in the US to examine possible links with the killings of four prostitutes in Atlantic City last month.

In Suffolk, det chf supt Gull said police had continued to recover several items of clothing yesterday across the county.

Officers are said to have retrieved a leather jacket and numerous other items from the River Orwell yesterday.

A pair of trainers was also recovered from the river bank at Shotley today.

A handbag containing a pair of knickers, a toothbrush and toothpaste has also been found near the Ferodo Bridge in Norwich Road, Ipswich.

Police will not confirm the locations of any of their finds but said any reports of clothing will be investigated and police will respond and secure the scene. Witnesses have also said a bin liner full of items was recovered from Belstead Brook near Burstall bridge.

Miss Adams' body was found near the location in Hintlesham on December 2.

One man who witnessed the police emerge with the bag but wished to remain anonymous said: “They have been sifting through the river and one of the divers got out with what looked like a bin liner full of stuff. It might have been a brown evidence bag.”

The divers emerged with what could be important fragments of evidence at about 3.30pm yesterday.

Speculation today suggests that all five victims had their genital hair shaved but det chf supt Gull said this was not the case.

Miss Nicol and Miss Adams, however, had lost some of their head hair because their bodies had been in water for some time before they were discovered.

An Ipswich prostitute is also believed to have told police she saw Miss Alderton, get into a blue BMW on the night she disappeared. She said a chubby man with glasses had picked the woman up and driven off.

Det chf supt Gull said that was now being investigated and police were looking to trace the woman who gave the information to the media to “establish the facts”.

The body of one of the fourth and fifth victims was taken to Ipswich Hospital last night and formal identification is expected to take place today. The other body found at Levington will remain in situ today.

A huge police presence was sent to Bucklesham Road, Foxhall about 11am today but sources at the scene said there was nothing to suggest the call was related to the murder inquiries.

Meanwhile, children at Murrayfield Primary School in Natcon Road, Ipswich held a morning of worship and a moment of silence for the victims of the murders.

Pc David Bevan, a police education officer, was also called in because youngsters had expressed concern about their safety.

He advised children to exercise the caution they normally would.

MOTORISTS continue to face delays around Ipswich today while police search for clues around the sites where bodies were discovered.

Congestion is expected in the Levington and Nacton areas.

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