Renewed hope in bid to find murderer

ELEVEN years after young mum Karen Hales was stabbed to death, her mother today she said she hopes her killer can still be caught.On the eve of the anniversary of the 21-year-old's brutal killing at her Ipswich home, Geraldine Hales said she has drawn inspiration from new leads in other unsolved crimes.

ELEVEN years after young mum Karen Hales was stabbed to death, her mother today she said she hopes her killer can still be caught.

On the eve of the anniversary of the 21-year-old's brutal killing at her Ipswich home, Geraldine Hales said she has drawn inspiration from new leads in other unsolved crimes.

The recent discovery of DNA clues in the probe into the death of model Rachel Nickell has sparked fresh hope for the Hales family.

The 23-year-old was sexually assaulted and stabbed 49 times on Wimbledon Common, south London, in 1992 – a year before Karen's death.

Now new scientific evidence has emerged suggesting a convicted rapist and murderer could have committed the crime.

Today, Mrs Hales said the case has been a source of renewed optimism.

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It was on the afternoon of November 21, 1993 that 21-year-old Karen was stabbed to death and her body set on fire at her home, in Lavenham Road, Ipswich.

Mrs Hales said: "I heard the police are using DNA to solve the case of Rachel Nickell and it does give you hope.

"It's 11 years on since it happened but when you hear something like that you think maybe, one day.

"But then you think, 11 years have gone now and they haven't got a hope in hell of catching anyone. It's difficult."

Mrs Hales, 59, of Claydon, said thoughts of her daughter are never far from her mind. She still visits her grave every week.

She said: "She is always spoken about and she'll never be forgotten. We just want to know why? That's the hardest thing.

"She was so bubbly and so happy. Then somebody came along and took her life away and we don't know why."

Hopes Karen's daughter might prove to be a key witness in the probe are now fading.

Emily, who was a toddler at the time of her mother's killing, was at home at the time of the attack and is thought to have witnessed the incident.

But Mrs Hales said it is very unlikely the youngster, now aged 12, remembers anything that may help police solve the mystery.

She said: "I think if she was going to remember anything she would've said by now. In a way I'm glad she was that young (when it happened). Had she been four or five she may have been disturbed in some way.

"In a way you wish she had remembered something but in another way I'm glad she doesn't."

Although now getting on with her life, Mrs Hales said Karen's murder left her suicidal and ruined her marriage.

"Time is a healer but it caused my marriage to split up as well," she said. "After 37 years with my husband, we just got worse and worse.

"Now he's on his own and I'm on my own. But you have got to get on with your life. For the first couple of years after it happened I didn't want to. Then I think of my other daughters and my five grandchildren and I'm glad I'm still here."

Anna Woolnough, spokeswoman for Suffolk police, stressed the case remains open.

Anyone with information about the murder should telephone Suffolk police on 01473 613500.

TIMELINE

November 21, 1993, 3.50pm Miss Hales' fiance leaves their Lavenham Road home for work. Their baby Emily stays at home with her mum.

3.50pm – 4.40pm, The 21-year-old mum is stabbed to death in her kitchen by an attacker, who then sets fire to her body.

4.40pm, Miss Hales' parents Graham and Geraldine Hales arrive at their daughter's. Mr Hales discovers her body.

4.40pm – 4.58pm, Mr Hales rescues his granddaughter from the house, puts the blaze out and then dials 999.

10.15am, November 22, A murder hunt is launched by Suffolk police.

November 25, Police reveal Miss Hales could have been killed with two Laser 7 knives missing from her home.

January 5, 1994, A man in his 20s is arrested on suspicion of murder.

January 7, He is released without charge having been questioned for three days.

January 11, Police question a second man, aged 30, before releasing him the following day.

March 2003, A DNA sample from Miss Hales' body is sent away to be re-examined. However it turned to be Miss Hales' own DNA.

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