Police hunt burned body killer

By Dave GooderhamA MANHUNT was launched last night for the brutal killer of a fitness fanatic whose charred and semi-naked remains were found at a beauty spot.

By Dave Gooderham

A MANHUNT was launched last night for the brutal killer of a fitness fanatic whose charred and semi-naked remains were found at a beauty spot.

Police painted a grisly picture of Dawn Walker's last moments as dozens of officers began the painstaking task of tracking down the murderer who left her dead beside the River Lark, near Bury St Edmunds.

The body of the 37-year-old printing assistant - described as likeable and loyal - was discovered by a dog walker on Friday evening.

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Detectives revealed yesterday that Miss Walker had been set on fire, but they were unable to say whether she had been burned before or after she died. They also said there was evidence at the scene of the grim discovery near Fornham St Martin that her body had been moved.

More than 30 officers from across Suffolk have been assigned to the hunt for Miss Walker's killer while Fornham Park - a popular spot for dog walkers spanning several hundreds of acres - remained sealed off yesterday.

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The body of Miss Walker, of Oak Close, Fornham St Martin, was found by the River Lark at 5.10pm on Friday night, just six hours after she was reported missing by concerned family members - but it is believed she had not been seen since 9.30pm on Wednesday.

Her family, who were being supported by police experts, were said last night to be too upset to talk about her death.

Local resident Colin Hilder, former Independent member of the Suffolk Police Authority, said: “Having learned that a body had been found caused great alarm and distress and feelings of great sadness for those nearest to the lady concerned.

“Now that the worst is known - that this lady lost her life at the hands of another person - it will be of great concern to everyone nearby,

“They will continue to feel worried until they know exactly what has happened and the person who caused this has been caught. Everyone also has great sympathy for those nearest to the lady herself.”

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said the whole community was numbed by the murder and added: “It is quite a shock when it's this near to home. We were told that her body was burned and when she was found she was half-naked.”

Detective Superintendent Roy Lambert, who is leading the investigation, said yesterday police were treating Miss Walker's death as murder and made an urgent plea to the public as he admitted the last 38 hours of her life remained a mystery.

Although Det Supt Lambert said police were still keeping an open mind about possible motives, he refused to rule out whether Miss Walker - who was not married and had no children - was known to her killer.

“Although a cause of death has not yet been ascertained, we now believe that a third party was involved in the death of Dawn Walker,” he added.

“Due to ongoing inquiries at the scene it has become apparent that the body of Dawn has been set alight and there has been some movement of her body following this.

“Scenes of crime officers and specialist search teams are at the scene today and this will remain cordoned off whilst extensive investigations continue.”

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Saturday at Ipswich Hospital and police said further tests and house-to-house inquires were being conducted.

Det Supt Lambert said: “As part of this investigation we are keen to try to trace the last known movements of Dawn Walker. We have to find out when she was last seen alive.

“We believe she was last seen at her home address in Fornham St Martin at about 9.30pm on Wednesday, but we need to identify her movements between then and when she was found.”

Anyone with information should contact Bury St Edmunds police on 01473 613999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


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