Police's serial killer fears

DETECTIVES investigating the horrific double murder of prostitutes Gemma Adams and Tania Nicol admitted last night the same person could be responsible for both killings.

By Danielle Nuttall

DETECTIVES investigating the horrific double murder of prostitutes Gemma Adams and Tania Nicol admitted last night the same person could be responsible for both killings.

Detective Chief Inspector John Quinton, who is leading the hunt for Miss Nicol's murderer, said it was not “inconceivable” that both girls were murdered by the same offender - raising fears that a serial killer is on the loose.

But he stressed it was too early to speculate whether the killer could strike again, although police are continuing to maintain a high visibility presence in Ipswich's red light district.

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It also emerged last night detectives are consulting criminal experts on the murders to establish what type of offender is likely to have committed the offences.

Police confirmed on Saturday that the female body discovered by divers in a stream at Copdock Mill on the outskirts of Ipswich was that of 19-year-old Miss Nicol.

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A post mortem examination has been carried out but further tests are needed to find out the cause of her death. These could take up to six weeks, it was revealed.

Detectives did admit yesterday however that, like Miss Adams, there was no evidence of sexual assault or obvious signs of violence on Miss Nicol's body.

DCI Quinton said: “These are two murder inquiries which have been linked. The similarities are striking and it's not inconceivable the same person may be responsible.

“However, it's clear we have to keep an open mind to the fact that although strikingly similar we may be looking for different offenders.

“At this early stage of the investigation it would not be prudent to rule out any other options.

“It's much too early to speculate whether or not the person or persons responsible could do so again.

“In relation to the personal safety of prostitutes in the area, one of the facts which assisted us in linking the two is the similarity of lifestyles. We have continued to do a lot of work in relation to high visibility patrols.”

Officers completed their search of the area Miss Nicol's body was discovered on Saturday afternoon but they said further searches could be carried out in the same area or somewhere else if there was further intelligence.

DCI Quinton said so far police had not found any clothing or personal effects they could directly link to Miss Nicol and the search continued to find these.

Miss Nicol left her home in Woolverstone Close, Ipswich, at about 10.30pm on Monday, October 30. She headed into town with the intention of working as a prostitute.

Miss Adams was reported missing to police in the early hours of Wednesday, November 15, when she failed to return to her home in Blenheim Road, Ipswich, after spending the evening working as a prostitute in the town.

Miss Adams' naked body was discovered in a brook by a fish warden on Saturday, December 2 at Thorpe's Hill, Hintlesham.

At a press conference on Saturday, Detective Superintendent Andy Henwood, who is overseeing the investigation into the murder of both prostitutes, said it was “very rare” to have a linked murder investigation.

“The discovery of both women's bodies in these circumstances is of great concern to us, it is very rare to have a linked murder investigation and we are now reliant on information from the public to help move these investigations forward,” he said.

But he stressed he was confident the killer or killers would be brought to justice.

“Officers are vigorously pursuing a number of leads in this investigation,” he said.

“The way the girls lived their lives is a significant line of inquiry. We are aware of their drug usage and yes, that's a line of enquiry.

“Clearly we are aware of other investigations (of other prostitute murders in the region) that have taken place over a number of years. But there is nothing to link these with these cases at this stage.”

Det Supt Henwood said Miss Nicol's parents had been told that the body discovered on Friday at Copdock was that of Tania on Saturday afternoon.

“The family is devastated in respect of this,” he said. “We have family liaison officers working with the family to try and support them through this difficult time.”

Prostitutes are still working in the town's red light district although there are fewer than normal. Police are advising them to take extra caution and remain in contact with friends and family.

DCI Quinton added: “Clearly we want to say to women who feel the need to work as prostitutes they should be aware of their personal safety.

“It's quite clear they need to assure themselves they are happy as far as they can be before they get into any vehicles. Any concerns they have they should notify one of us directly.”

Police are still anxious to talk to anyone who might have been clients of Miss Adams or Miss Nicol, prostitutes or anyone who saw anything suspicious in the Hintlesham or Copdock areas where the bodies were found.

Anyone with information is asked to call Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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