DNA hope for murder victims' families

THE families of two murdered women whose killers have never been found have told of their renewed hope after police in Nottinghamshire announced a major breakthrough in a 25-year-old case.

Anthony Bond

THE families of two murdered women whose killers have never been found have told of their renewed hope after police in Nottinghamshire announced a major breakthrough in a 25-year-old case.

Karen Hales' sister and the parents of Jean Trigg say they remain hopeful that their cases may be solved following advancements in DNA technology.

Nottinghamshire Police yesterdayannounced a “massive leap forward” after developments in forensic technology allowed them to form a DNA profile of Colette Aram'skiller. The 16-year-old was dumped in a field after being raped and strangled in 1983 and her killer has never been found.

The breakthrough has given renewed hope to the family of 21-year-old Miss Hales. She was stabbed and her body set on fire in front of her 18-month-old daughter at her home in Ipswich in 1993.

Her sister, Angela Cates, 44, said: “It is 15 years next month and if nobody comes forward to tell the police what happened then the DNA is all that we are left with.

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“You see stories on the news about cases being solved from years ago and think that it could be the same for us. It is upsetting to think that whoever murdered her has had 15 years of life and probably has a family and they took everything away from Karen and got away with it.

“It has not been easy for us but the whole family has had to get on with it. We could not put our lives on hold and Karen would not want us to. It never leaves you and you think about it all the time.”

Dr Eleanor Graham, a forensic scientist, said yesterdaythat she believes more cold cases could be investigated if money is made available to the police.

Both Suffolk and Essex Police both have teams looking at cold cases but said they are unable to talk about which cases they are working on.

Ray Newman, major crime review officer for Essex Police, said: “We always take into account advances in forensic science which includes DNA and we look at old cases to see if we have any forensic opportunities.

“Where as before we used to take investigations as far as we could and then put them on the shelf and wait for something to develop, we now look at these cases with nothing particular in mind and look to see what might be there. Years ago you needed a blood stain the size of a 10p piece to develop a DNA profile but now you can develop DNA from miniscule amounts.

“Families can be assured that we have not forgotten them and we will look at these unsolved cases.”

Suffolk police said they do have a team which looks specifically at cold cases and said those responsible for committing serious crimes cannot hide from advancements in forensic science.

A spokesman said: “Even where forensic evidence has not led to the identification or conviction of the offender at the time the crime was committed this can change as new scientific techniques develop.

“By using these new techniques, evidence from unsolved serious crimes that relied on early DNA technology can be re-analysed with the potential to provide new lines of enquiry. The clear message is that those responsible for committing these serious crimes can't hide from the advancements in forensic science.”

IT has been more than a decade since Les and Kathleen Trigg's daughter, Jean, and their five-year-old grandson were killed by an arsonist at her home in Essex.

The 26-year-old and her son, Anthony, both died in the fire at Church Crescent, Clacton in July 1998.

Mr and Mrs Trigg, who live in Bolton, have never given up hope that one day the killer will be brought to justice for the senseless murders but despite a number of arrests no-one has been convicted.

Essex Police's cold case team has been investigating and earlier this summer there was a fresh appeal for information.

Last night Mr Trigg said he was in favour of more money being ploughed into DNA investigations to help save others from the heartache his family has suffered.

He told the EADT: “The fire which gutted the hallway wiped out all the evidence in our case, but if there was any way that DNA technology could help it would be a great advantage.

“I am all in favour of more money being invested in it because even if it cannot help in our case, I hope it would make the difference for other grieving families.

“All I can do is look over the files. I have and try to find something which could solve the case.”

There were eight people in the property at the time of the attack, with six managing to escape, but Miss Trigg and Anthony were overcome by fumes and later died.

An inquest, which recorded a verdict of unlawful killing, heard the fire had been started by someone using petrol.

Forensic evidence indicated an occupant started the fire in the hallway, but police later said they were not ruling out the possibility that the arsonist entered the building.

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