Ipswich: ‘Karen’s murderer will still bear the burden of their guilt’
TIME has not begun to heal even a sliver of the heartache suffered by the family of Karen Hales.
Despite the passing of 6,940 days, the crushing heartbreak they endure is still as raw today as it has ever been.
Miss Hales was looking after her 19-month-old daughter Emily when she was stabbed to death on a snow-encrusted Sunday afternoon. Her murderer then attempted to set her body alight, before it was discovered by her father Graham.
Assuming the killer is still alive, for the past 19 years he or she has had to live with the terrible crime they committed on November 21, 1993.
The burden is made all the heavier by the fact that it is likely they knew Miss Hales, as the 21-year-old was said to have opened the door to her murderer.
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Leading forensic psychologist Clive Sims gave an insight into the internal struggle the killer has to live with day in and day out. He also explained what it must be like for them, or anyone they have confided in, when publicity about the case is thrust back into the public domain.
Mr Sims, who is based in Ipswich, said: “If the person is still living around here or still alive, the publicity that comes up is going to remind them of what they have done.
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“People change over the years. They may be in a different place in their life. There may be a rise in consciousness about what has happened. This has happened in the past in other murder cases elsewhere. There’s always that possibility.
“The person is never going to forget what they did, especially given the circumstances of the murder and the setting fire to the body. That was a way of destroying evidence, where the person realises that they could possibly be identified from the evidence.
“It seems as if Miss Hales let the person in so it was probably someone she knew.
“If it was someone who knew her there would have been some form of relationship, and that would be even more likely to stir up that person’s conscience at this time of year.
“Contrary to this is the issue of fear, of what will happen to them if they are either apprehended or go and confess, because you are looking at a mandatory life sentence. They have made a life for themselves since the murder. Even if their conscience is working there’s always going to be this conflict.
“Assuming we are not talking about a person with a mental illness, there’s going to be a memory of what happened, but there is all this conflict - ‘should I confess or not confess?’.
“Unless new evidence comes out, or they have found a religious belief, then it’s probable they would not come forward voluntarily.
“Given the length of time it’s unlikely there will be any new witness statements that are reliable because of the period of time, unless it is somebody they have confided in whose conscience is pricked.”
For Miss Hales’s parents Graham and Geraldine, daughter Emily, and the rest of her family, all that is left is the enormous sense of loss and injustice.
Miss Hales’s mother Geraldine, who lives near Claydon, said: “It’s still perpetual torment.
“Karen is missed terribly every day. The anniversary isn’t really any different from any other day.
“Graham and I are very disappointed at not having any answers or that someone has not been caught.
“We still believe somebody is hiding something and that someone knows something.”