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Police hunt for murderer of Ipswich prostitutes zeroes in on suspects.

Byline: By Caroline Gammell and Brian Farmer

Police hunting the killer of five prostitutes last night said they are tightening the net around a series of suspects. They refused to reveal how many individuals are in their sights for the Suffolk murders but sources suggested that the number is fewer than 50 - not all of them men who used prostitutes. Police said a 'number of interesting lines of inquiry are being followed'.

As the parents of one of the murdered women appealed for information to catch the killer, detectives said they are making 'good progress' in the hunt.

'There are a number of people of interest to us,' said Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull.

'We are making good progress and are pursuing a number of interesting lines of inquiry.'

Mr Gull added, 'We have a range of individuals who have been suggested to us. Some are local and some are not. Some are not punters.

'We are determined to find the person or persons responsible.'

At an emotional press conference, Tania Nicol's parents Jim Duell and Kerry Nicol said the killer 'needs to be found'.

They urged anyone who had information, 'however small', to come forward.

'Tania was a lovely daughter - she was a caring, loving, sensitive girl who would never hurt anyone,' said the couple, in their joint statement.

'Unfortunately drugs took her away into her own secret world - a world neither of us were aware of.

'Tania has been taken by someone who needs to be found.'

The couple added, 'We ask for anyone who knows this person or persons to come forward and contact the police.

'We would like to thank all the people who have offered help so far but ask if anyone has any information, however small, please tell us - even if they come forward anonymously.'

Ms Nicol, wearing a grey top, pink cardigan and floral skirt, looked nervous and upset throughout their joint appeal.

She glanced nervously at Mr Duell as he read out a prepared statement.

She seemed overawed by the number of television cameras and photographers, taking deep breaths as if trying not to cry.

Mr Duell read out a second statement aimed directly at the families of those who had also lost loved ones.

He said, 'They cannot take away our memories, they cannot take away our love, our fortitude, our courage.

'Grieve for our daughters but not unnecessarily.

'Live your lives through our departed daughters, as they would want to see us getting on with our lives and not going round with our heads bowed down.'

He went on, 'There is a time for sadness and a time for gladness.

'A gladness that they belonged to us and a gladness that they are now at peace.'

Earlier, detectives confirmed that the fifth woman found dead near Ipswich in the past two weeks is missing prostitute Annette Nicholls, 29.

Despite a post-mortem examination, the cause of her death was not clear and further tests are being carried out.

Four other women have been found dead in villages near Ipswich in the past fortnight.

Gemma Adams, 25, was found in Belstead Brook at Hintlesham on December 2. Miss Nicol was found in the same stream at Copdock on December 8.

They were naked and detectives have not revealed the cause of their deaths.

Anneli Alderton, 24, was found in woods at Nacton on Sunday. She, too, was naked and had been strangled.

Paula Clennell, 24, and Miss Nicholls were found naked in woods at Levington on Tuesday.

More than 300 officers - from more than 20 forces including Welsh forces - are hunting one of the biggest serial killers in British criminal history.

Mr Gull said detectives are trawling through more than 7,000 calls received after appeals to the public for information.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 16, 2006
Words:629
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