‘Somebody out there knows who is responsible’ say police 27 years on from Karen Hales murder

PUBLISHED: 19:00 21 November 2020 | UPDATED: 19:19 21 November 2020

Police at the scene of Karen Hales' murder in 1993 Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

Police at the scene of Karen Hales' murder in 1993 Picture: ARCHANT ARCHIVE

Cold case detectives have said they will “never give up hope” of catching the killer of an Ipswich mother who was brutally murdered 27 years ago.

Karen Hales was 21 when she was murdered in Ipswich Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYKaren Hales was 21 when she was murdered in Ipswich Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Karen Hales was stabbed to death in front of her 18-month-old daughter, Emily, and her body was set on fire at her home in Lavenham Road on November 21, 1993. She was just 21 years old.

On the day of her murder – a Sunday – there was at least two inches of snow on the ground, and not many people on the streets.

Her long-term partner, Peter Ruffles, had left the couple’s home to go to work at 3.50pm.

Darkness fell around 4pm and around 40 minutes later, Karen’s parents, Graham and Geraldine, called at the house and found the front door unlocked. They entered to be confronted by the smell of smoke, before Mr Hales discovered his daughter’s body in the kitchen.

Karen Hales' grave Picture: ARCHANTKaren Hales' grave Picture: ARCHANT

Despite a manhunt, extensive national media attention, and a £50,000 reward, the shop assistant’s killer has never been caught.

Two people were arrested and released without charge; an E-fit of the killer was released, but no motive for the killing was ever established.

MORE: Ipswich mum’s brutal death has haunted family and detectives for last 25 years

With no sign of forced entry, police believed Karen opened her door and was, therefore, likely to have known her killer. No footprints were left in the snow leaving the back of the property. Two kitchen knives were missing from the house, but have never been found. Nor has Karen’s purse, which contained a small amount.

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Advances in DNA analysis are unlikely to move the case on as most evidence was destroyed when Karen’s body was set alight.

Despite the passage of time, the cold case murder team in Suffolk and Karen’s family are still hopeful of bringing the person responsible to justice.

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith, the senior investigating officer, said he believes someone out there knows who is responsible for the “horrific crime”.

He said: “We never give up hope of catching the person or persons responsible for Karen’s murder.

“Karen’s family are central in our thoughts at this time of year and we would like nothing more than to be able to provide them with the answers they deserve and to deliver justice for Karen.

“On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Karen’s murder two years ago, we received a very encouraging response from the public following a number of media interviews I conducted alongside members of Karen’s family. This clearly demonstrated that despite the passage of time, people remember this case and are willing to come forward with information about it.

“I still believe that somebody out there knows who is responsible for this horrific crime and my message to them is that it is never too late to come forward. Any information we receive will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the joint Suffolk and Norfolk unsolved case team on 01953 423819, or by emailing police

Alternatively, people can contact independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111, or online here.

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