Friday 23 March 2018

Police warning to women as architect killer 'still at large'

Landlord released after two days of questioning over Yeates murder

Chris Jefferies: has been released after questioning by police. Photo: PA
Chris Jefferies: has been released after questioning by police. Photo: PA

Rachel Mace in London

BRITISH police warned yesterday that the killer of Joanna Yeates was 'still at large'.

In a warning that the killer was still on the loose detectives advised the local community to take "the usual safety precautions".

At a press conference outside Ms Yeates's home in Canynge Road, Chief Superintendent Jon Stratford said: "I can understand why the public in the local and wider Bristol area have concerns for their safety at the current time. Whoever killed Joanna remains at large.

"However, I want to reassure the public that at this time there's no specific intelligence or information to suggest an increased threat to their safety."

But he advised women not to walk home after dark and householders to ensure their homes were secure and to take care when answering the door to strangers.

Meanwhile, yesterday Chris Jefferies, the landlord arrested over the murder of Ms Yeates, was released by police.

The 65-year-old was freed pending further inquiries after spending more than two days in custody being questioned on suspicion of killing the landscape architect, whose snow-covered body was found on Christmas Day.

His release came hours after the 25-year-old's grieving family said they were "certain" her killer would be caught.

Detectives were continuing their investigation into the murder yesterday and said they were working tirelessly to bring the culprit to justice.

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones said: "Firstly I would like to reassure the public that this investigation is very much ongoing. We have a team of over 70 police officers and staff working tirelessly to bring the person responsible for Joanna's death to justice. The incident room has been inundated with thousands of calls from members of the public who have provided us with information. This information is being scrutinised and followed up by specially trained officers who are exhausting every lead and avenue that we are provided with."


Detectives are particularly keen to speak to anyone who may have used Longwood Lane in Failand, Bristol, between December 17, when Miss Yeates went missing, and Christmas Day, when her body was discovered there.

In a direct appeal to members of the public, DCI Jones said: "Did you see anyone or any vehicle acting suspiciously in the area? I would again urge taxi drivers and those who drove to functions to call us. They may have information that could prove vital."

Mr Jefferies, who lives above the Victorian flat Miss Yeates shared with her boyfriend Greg Reardon in Bristol's up-market Clifton area, was arrested on Thursday and held until last night after police were granted more time to question him.

The property, on Canynge Road, lies about three miles from where the young woman's body was found. Forensic investigations continue there and a strong police presence remains in the neighbourhood.

The local force urged residents to call 999 if they saw anyone acting suspiciously.

The landlord's release came after Miss Yeates's grieving parents and brother said their lives had stopped as soon as she went missing.

In an emotional statement read out by police, they said: "From the moment that we received Greg's phone call on Sunday December 19, until now, time has had no meaning.

David (63), Theresa (58) and their son Chris said their daughter and sister had been "stolen" from them but that they had found the police "most considerate" and had kept them informed of developments in the investigation.

In their statement, the family said: "We gain a little solace from the fact that the high point in Jo's life was her graduation in November, when her life was 'perfect'.

"Our grief and sadness includes the experiences which she missed out on, in terms of family and children and rising through her profession.

They also declared themselves "overawed" by the amount of support and practical help they had from people in Bristol, revealing that they had received many cards and letters of sympathy from well-wishers they had never even met.

Mr Reardon described his girlfriend, who disappeared on December 17 and was later found strangled, as "a beautiful woman, beautiful in mind, body and soul".

He said: "She had a great career ahead of her as a landscape architect and would have achieved a great many more things in her life if only she was given the chance."

Irish Independent

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