Britain

Police renew appeal to find girl’s killer 20 years on

Twenty years on from the brutal murder of 14-year-old Kate Bushell, police in Devon hope a new lead could be the key to solving the investigation.

The teenager was killed in a field near to her family home on the outskirts of Exeter, whilst walking a neighbour's dog in November 1997.

Image:The rural lane where Kate was last seen

It was Kate's father who found her body. He started searching for his daughter after growing increasingly concerned when she failed to return home.

Kate was stabbed in the neck, but her killer has never been found. The investigation is one of the country's longest running cold cases.

detective investigating case holds up knife.
Image:Police have released images of the type of knife used to kill Kate

Detectives at Devon and Cornwall police are appealing for the public's help. They say the kitchen knife used to kill Kate was around six inches long and they're hoping to trace a man seen at the crime scene in a blue hatchback car at around the time Kate was murdered.

The police also have a new lead, which they hope will trigger people's memories.

Senior Investigating Officer Paul Burgan told Sky News: "We located in excess of 100 fibres on Kate's body that are completely alien to her and her home. So we deduced that they were deposited by the offender. The type of material is a bright orange polyester mix, primarily used in work-related garments like boiler suits, work gloves and aprons."

Detective investigating case holds up orange material
Image:More than 100 microscopic orange fibres were discovered on Kate's body and clothing

Due to the similarities, Kate's murder has been investigated alongside that of 41-year-old Lyn Bryant, who was killed in 1998. She too was murdered in a remote area, by a knifeman, whilst walking her dog.

Around £1m has been spent by Devon and Cornwall Police in a bid to try to trace Kate's killer, making it the force's biggest ever murder investigation.

At the police headquarters, there are so many documents and files relating to the case that they occupy an entire room.

Kate Bushell with her brother Tim
Image:Kate with her brother Tim, who has reflected on 'missed opportunities as a family'

Speaking on the 20th anniversary since his sister's death, Tim Bushell said: "It's really difficult to comprehend how someone could do that to a 14-year-old girl…You get your anniversaries that come up and the life events, when my children were born, she wasn't there to celebrate them. All your life events you miss them and you should have had your sister around to celebrate with…there have been a lot of missed opportunities as a family together."

Detectives never completely close files on unsolved murders and in this case they're hoping that 20 years on, a renewed appeal for information may provide clues that could ultimately lead to Kate's killer.

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