Home News UK & World News

Joanna's killer hunted by police

The killer who strangled landscape architect Joanna Yeates and dumped her body by a roadside is being hunted by police.

Detectives leading the murder investigation said they were persuing a number of lines of inquiry and maintained they were keeping an "open mind" over whether the 25-year-old was held captive or killed on the lane where she was found.

Miss Yeates' father on Tuesday spoke of how he felt "relief" after being reunited with the graduate's body, which was found on a grass verge in Failand, North Somerset, by dog walkers on Christmas morning.

David Yeates, 63, also said his family was trying to "rationalise" what had happened and hoped his daughter's killer will be brought to justice. He told the Solent News and Photo Agency: "I fear that whoever has done this will never hand themselves in but we live in hope that the police will catch who is responsible. We are sure the police know more about what happened than they are telling us, but at the moment we are not questioning them because we feel they are doing their best."

Mr Yeates said the news that his daughter had been murdered came as no surprise to him or wife Theresa, 56, because the family had been told to prepare for the worst. The past week had been the worst of their lives, he added speaking from his home in Ampfield, Hampshire, but said viewing her body had made things a little easier. "It was a relief to see her again - we just said: 'Welcome back'," he said.

Avon and Somerset Police revealed that Miss Yeates died as a result of "compression of the neck". Det Ch Insp Phil Jones, who is leading the murder investigation, said he believed her body had been dumped in Longwood Lane, Failand, North Somerset "several days" earlier. The officer said a number of lines of inquiry were being pursued, including the possibility there was a sexual motive behind her killing or that the graduate knew her killer.

He confirmed that Miss Yeates' boyfriend Greg Reardon, who reported her missing on Sunday night after returning home from a weekend away in Sheffield visiting family, was being treated as a witness and not as a suspect.

The landscape architect had been missing for eight days when her clothed body was discovered by a couple walking their dogs close to the Bristol and Clifton Golf Club - about three miles from her home.

Miss Yeates was last seen alive on the evening of December 17 having bought a pizza in Tesco Express in Clifton, at about 8.45pm. Minutes before she had brought two bottles of cider from off-licence Bargain Booze, located just metres away from the Tesco store. Police believe she then walked the short distance home to the ground floor flat she shared with her boyfriend because her keys, purse and bank cards were found there, together with a receipt from Tesco.

Earlier that night she had left the Ram pub on Park Street in Bristol city centre where she had been having a drink with work colleagues and walked to Waitrose on the Clifton Triangle, before heading to Clifton Village and the Tesco Express.