New leads in hunt for Thelma's killers

DETECTIVES investigating the murder of an elderly woman who died within hours of being conned out of £1,000 said a two-hour operation in her road had resulted in significant new leads.

DETECTIVES investigating the murder of an elderly woman who died within hours of being conned out of £1,000 said a two-hour operation in her road had resulted in significant new leads.

Police stopped vehicles at either end of Barn Hall Avenue in Colchester precisely a week after bogus callers targeted the home of 90-year-old Thelma Avis.

More than 350 motorists were interviewed by 15 officers between 4pm and 6pm on Friday, according to Detective Inspector Dave Sharpe, second in command of the inquiry into Mrs Avis' death.

Det Insp Sharpe said: "It went very well. Of those stopped and spoken to we have around 12-15 new leads, of which one is particularly good."


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Officers spent much of the weekend sifting through interview sheets and prioritising information received from drivers.

The East Anglian Daily Times has offered a reward of £1,000 for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for Mrs Avis' death.

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The newspaper has also relaunched its Safe in Your Home campaign in a fresh bid to crack down on bogus callers.

The relaunch has been backed by Mrs Avis' grieving sons, John and Neil.

The pensioner, who suffered from heart disease and walked with a frame, answered her door at about 5.30pm on July 4 to a bogus gasman who claimed to be investigating a leak.

He went inside and kept her talking for 25 minutes until she became suspicious and called her son. Police believe an accomplice slipped into the house and stole £1,000 while Mrs Avis was distracted.

Mrs Avis gave detailed information to police at about 8.30pm about the theft, but she died shortly afterwards.

The man who knocked on Mrs Avis's door claiming to be from the gas board is described as white, between 5ft 7in and 5ft 11in tall and of slim to medium build.

He spoke quickly with a Colchester accent, had short, straight, dark-brown hair, a sallow complexion, was clean-shaven and was wearing a navy-blue, long-sleeved top, blue jeans and grey trainers.

His accomplice is described as white, aged between 22 and 24, 5ft tall and of small build. He spoke with an Irish accent and has short, dishevelled hair and a tanned complexion.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact Essex Police on 01277 262220 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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