Family's plea to find Capel killer

ONE month on, the devastated family of Suffolk pensioner Joan Albert have spoken of their battle to come to terms with her brutal murder of the 79-year-old.

By James Fraser

ONE month on, the devastated family of Suffolk pensioner Joan Albert have spoken of their battle to come to terms with her brutal murder of the 79-year-old.

As murder squad detectives continue to hunt for her killer, her shocked family has been forced to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of her tragic death.

But today they issued a heartfelt plea for anyone with information to come forward.

While Mrs Albert awaits a proper funeral, her nephew today admitted that the grieving process had been stalled.

Their minds full of little else but the will to find the person responsible for the terrible loss they have suffered.

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"It is something you have on your mind whatever you are doing," said Trevor Cousins, of Assington Road, Newton , near Sudbury.

With his 80-year-old mother Kathleen, Mr Cousins was one of the last people to see the elegant widow alive on the Saturday before she was discovered in the hallway of her home on the morning of Dec 16.

Her body was peppered with stab wounds.

His grieving mother, Mrs Albert's elder sister, with whom he had delivered Christmas presents was "coping as well as could be expected," he said.

"The family have obviously started to come to terms with what has happened," he said. "The next thing will be holding her funeral. We are waiting for her body to be released but there's not a lot we can do really.

"We are awaiting developments," he said.

He added that the police, led by one of Suffolk's most experienced detectives Detective Superintendent Roy Lambert, were keeping the family informed of their progress with regular meetings.

Former hairdresser Mrs Albert was one of seven brothers and sisters from the Tuckwell family, who were well-known in Suffolk as a family firm making farm machinery.

Mrs Albert was found dead at 10am at her Boydlands home in Capel St Mary, a quiet village shocked to its unassuming core by the brutal events last month.

The frail OAP was discovered dressed only in her nightclothes, a fact which has led police to adopt as one line of inquiry that she was disturbed from her bed by an intruder.

Police are "almost positive" she was stabbed with her own knife taken from her kitchen but declined to comment on how many times she was stabbed.

Detectives are keen to question anyone who attended an evening of line dancing in the Capel area the night before Mrs Albert was found dead. So far the team of detectives and more than 20 officers working on the case have fielded hundreds of calls.

But one month on, the frenzied nature of the attack has spurred Mr Cousins in making a heartfelt plea for information.

"If anyone suspects someone was involved in this or knows anything about it or has reason to believe that somebody was involved, please come forward to the police with whatever information they might have."

More than 330 people have called a murder hotline in the month since a pensioner was found stabbed to death in the hallway of her home.

Capel St Mary Parish Council heard an account of the Suffolk police investigation into the murder.

After a minute's silence for the pensioner, Detective Inspector Harold Hayward said villagers were clearly trying their hardest to provide as much information as they could.

"There are approximately 800 actions – lines of inquiry – where the teams have been given an action, to go and see someone or take a statement," he added.

Mr Hayward said 25 officers were now working on the case and nine more were conducting house-to-house inquiries.

"It goes without saying that every effort will be made and no stone left unturned to get to the bottom of this horrible crime," he added.

Anyone with information should contact the incident room on 01473 613777 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

* The Evening Star is offering a £5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Mrs Albert's killer. Half the cash is being offered by the Star while the rest has come from Capel businesses, including Capel News, SAFC Services Ltd, Mall Wood Insurance Services, Cascade Pools, and the Lucky Star Chinese takeaway.