Detectives probe vice girl murder links

Detectives investigating the murder of two Suffolk prostitutes are continuing to look at links with similar cases in Norwich.

Detectives investigating the murder of two Suffolk prostitutes are continuing to look at links with similar cases in Norwich.

Today police said there were “striking similarities” between the deaths of Gemma Adams and Tania Nicol which led them to believe the same person or people were responsible, and that they are still working with Norfolk police to look at four previous cases.

The four cases are Michelle Bettles, 22, strangled in 2002, Kellie Pratt, 29, missing since 2000, Natalie Pearman, 16, strangled in 1992, and Hayley Curtis, 23, who was violently beaten and murdered in 2000. All were Norwich prostitutes. Philip Stanley, 56, was convicted of Ms Curtis' murder last year and is serving a life sentence, but the other three cases remain unsolved.

Police are also looking at the case of Mandy Duncan, a prostitute from Woodbridge, who disappeared in 1993.

Ms Nicol, 19, vanished on October 30 after going to work, while Ms Adams, 25, disappeared in same area of Ipswich in the early hours of November 15. The teenager's body was found naked in the water on Friday, and the 25-year-old's body, also naked, was found two miles away in the same stream on December 2. Post-mortems on both women have proved inconclusive and police are waiting for further test results to come back.

Det Chief Insp John Quinton said there was no evidence that either woman had been sexually assaulted and there were no obvious signs of injury to either body.

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He added: “We are working closely with our colleagues in Norfolk. We are aware of the situation in relation to the missing prostitutes and those that have been murdered in the Norwich area.”

But he is not linking the inquiry with the death of a woman whose body was found in the River Welland in south Lincolnshire on Saturday morning.

Mr Quinton said: “I have spoken to the officer who is leading that investigation and there do not appear to be any similarities between the body in the river in Lincolnshire and the deaths of Tania and Gemma.”

Asked whether he thought there was a serial killer on the loose, Mr Quinton said: “We are keeping a completely open mind as to who may be responsible.”

One of the possibilities detectives are considering is that the murderer lived in Norwich in the 1990s and the early years of this decade and has since moved to Ipswich. Mr Quinton said: “We cannot rule anything out in relation to the suspects. One of our specific main lines of inquiry will be to identify potential suspects.”

Police in Norwich have stepped up patrols of the area frequented by prostitutes around Rouen Road. Mr Quinton said the high-visibility patrols were a decision made by Norfolk police and not the result of advice from Suffolk officers.