Police in painstakinng search for clues

A HUGE manhunt swung into gear around Ipswich today as police conducted a double murder inquiry after the discovery of a second naked body in a Suffolk brook.

A HUGE manhunt swung into gear around Ipswich today as police conducted a double murder inquiry after the discovery of a second naked body in a Suffolk brook.

Detectives investigating the disappearance of teenager Tania Nicol were leading a search at Copdock Mill after the macabre discovery of a woman's body near to the animal feeds business HG Gladwell and Sons at 11.30am yesterday.

As reported later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, the find came as police divers hunted for clues into the murder of Tania's friend and fellow vice girl Gemma Adams, of Blenheim Road, Ipswich, whose body was found at Hintlesham last Saturday.

It is not yet known whether the body was dumped at the isolated spot - close to an area known to be used by prostitutes - or whether it was carried there by the fast-flowing waterway.

Police have not linked Miss Nicol's disappearance and Miss Adams' murder but, if the second body does turn out to be that of the 19-year-old, it will mean there are even further similarities between both cases.

The likenesses already include the fact that both women were working as prostitutes at the time of their disappearance; both vanished from the Handford Road/London Road area; their disappearances were both completely out of character and there has been no contact with friends or family since.

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Both bodies discovered have been in Belstead Brook, just over a mile apart, and both were naked, meaning if the victim is Tania, police will be more likely to draw links.

Detective Chief Inspector John Quinton said: “From the position of Suffolk Constabulary, it is very unusual that we are currently dealing with a murder investigation into the death of Gemma Adams and, in close proximity and in a similar area, we find ourselves investigating the suspicious death of an unidentified female.”

Det Ch Insp David Skevington added: “Until we know the outcome of the post mortem it is difficult to draw conclusions about whether the incidents are connected.

“But we are clearly taking into account investigations into missing Tania Nicol and the murder of Gemma Adams.

“We need to consider if there are any linkages between this finding and those investigations.

“These circumstances are extremely unusual for Suffolk. To have a murder investigation and a suspicious death is almost unique. The constabulary is treating this with the utmost seriousness.”

Formal identification of the body was expected to take place sometime today and a post mortem was due to be carried out this afternoon.

Kerry Nicol, Miss Nicol's mum, was expected to be called in today to help identify the body.

Police immediately sealed off the area where the body was found and are today combing the surrounding area for possible evidence. The area is likely to remain cordoned off for several days.

Officers are likely to make an appeal for those who use the area to jog their memories and report any suspicious activity.

The devastated father of 25-year-old Miss Adams said if it did prove to be Miss Nicol's body, his “heart-felt thoughts” would be with her family.

He added: “We hope they will receive the same degree of support that we have been fortunate enough to have received. I have got utmost confidence in the police to bring whoever has done this to justice.”

Local residents spoke of their shock at the latest grim discovery.

Mother-of-four Sarah Barber, who runs Copdock and Washbrook Post Office, said: “It's a bit scary really. I think everyone will be shocked by this.

“When they found the girl at Hintlesham I think everyone was worried.

“We had the helicopter running up and down the brook on that Sunday so it's been in our minds. But you still do not think it's going to be on your doorstep.”

TANIA Nicol was last seen on Monday, October 30 in Ipswich's red light district.

She left her home in Woolverstone Close, Pinewood, about 10.30pm and headed into town to work as a prostitute.

Her last confirmed sighting was at 11.02pm, close to the exit of the Sainsbury's garage on London Road, Ipswich.

Today Anne Rickwood, headteacher at Chantry High School, said the school was thinking of Miss Nicol.

She said: “Tania left us four years ago and we remember her with affection as we do with all past students.

“Our thoughts are of course with her family and friends at this time.”