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Star calls for DNA tests to solve murder

PUBLISHED: 18:00 31 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:15 03 March 2010

THE identity of Karen Hales' killer could lay hidden in grisly evidence which has been locked away for years by police.

Stashed in a cupboard by forensic examiners after the murder which shocked Suffolk in 1993 lies a sample of vomit found on her body which may harbour a vital clue.

THE identity of Karen Hales' killer could lay hidden in grisly evidence which has been locked away for years by police.

Stashed in a cupboard by forensic examiners after the murder which shocked Suffolk in 1993 lies a sample of vomit found on her body which may harbour a vital clue.

This evidence has not been tested for a DNA link for at least three years – and now The Evening Star has uncovered forensic experts who are prepared to use the latest techniques to see if the killer can be pinpointed.

Today the Star pledged to pay the £1,000 fee involved – and urged Suffolk police to send off the sample without delay.

If our testing of the sample reveals DNA, it could lead to the identity of the person who was the last to see the 21-year-old Ipswich mother-of-one alive.

No clues could be found on the sample at the time of the original investigation, but as the years have rolled by forensic technology has moved on leaps and bounds.

Just this month, West Midlands police arrested a man for the murder of 17-year-old student Nicola Dixon on New Year's Eve 1996, as a result of "an intelligence breakthrough from forensic processes".

Two leading experts – university forensic/genetic lecturers Harry Mountain and Dr Graham Harrison – have told the Star that it could be possible to get a DNA sample from the vomit left on Karen's body, no matter how small that sample may be because saliva comes up with it too.

They also ruled out that the vomit could be that of the victim herself, as they say traces would have been found in her nasal cavity and mouth.

The Star is prepared to pay for a high-tech test, to see if experts can unearth the last vital clues in this murder case - for the sake of Karen's family who still need answers and live with her memory, and her daughter, every day.

Accredited labs used by Norfolk Police, have assured us the test can be done, and may yield DNA evidence.

Today Karen's sister Jacqui Double welcomed the move, and said: "We are willing to give this test a try, because we still have many unanswered questions about how Karen died.

"We all have our own thoughts about who murdered her, but until evidence can eliminate those suspicions, they haunt us every day.

"I hope this test will yield results which will enable us to move on, put those suspicions to bed, and above all bring the person responsible to justice - for Karen's sake."

Twenty-one-year-old Karen was stabbed to death and her body set on fire at her home in Lavenham Road on November 21, 1993.

Years on, they are still struggling to come to terms with their daughter's death which is all the more sickening because it was thought to have been carried out in front of her 18 month old daughter Emily.

Her father Graham, 56, from Barham, found his daughter's body on her kitchen floor and the image of that terrible day still haunts him.

Karen's daughter Emily has grown up into a happy girl of 11, looking a mirror image of her mum with big brown eyes, and a 'sweet cheekiness' according to her aunt Jacqui.

The Star has written to Suffolk Police's acting chief constable Gillian Parker requesting the evidence be made available for this test, but whether the police will release it has yet to be decided.

The police have not tested the evidence in at least the past three years.

A police spokesman today said the Star's request is currently being considered, and would be answered in due course.

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