Was Joanna Yeates' killer behind the murder of Glenis Carruthers?
Similarities between the Clifton killings of Joanna Yeates and Glenis Carruthers are too alarming to ignore, a leading criminologist has told the Evening Post.
Professor David Wilson said that although the murders were 36 years apart, both women were strangled, were found not wearing their shoes and had been in a similar area of Clifton.
Neither had been sexually assaulted or had suffered any significant injuries other than from strangulation.
Yesterday Avon & Somerset police confirmed that CCTV footage from Bristol Zoo had been seized.
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The zoo is close to Miss Yeates' home in Canynge Road and the spot where Miss Carruthers' body was discovered in January 1974.
The Evening Post has learned that the Avon and Somerset force's Major Crime Review Team, which probes so-called "cold cases" where several years have passed without a culprit being brought to justice, will be devoting every member of its five-strong team to sifting through the 24 boxes of evidence and exhibits held on the Carruthers case next week.
Mr Wilson, who is professor of criminology and criminal justice at Birmingham City University, has visited both Canynge Road and Longwood Lane, between Failand and Long Ashton, where Miss Yeates' body was found dumped on Christmas Day.
He said the striking similarities between the cases made a possible link difficult to ignore.
Mr Wilson told the Post: "In my experience of dealing with murderers I never accept the idea of coincidence and therefore I want to look very carefully at whether seemingly random factors are connected.
"To think that Glenis Carruthers was killed in the same way, in roughly the same street, her body was dumped and there was no sexual assault seems to me to be worth pursuing."
Mr Wilson has researched many murderers, including serial killer Fred West, Soham murderer Ian Huntley, and Suffolk strangler Steven Wright.
Yesterday he made several startling observations about other aspects of the Yeates investigation.
He strongly believes that Miss Yeates' killer was known to her, lives in Bristol and is likely to have revisited the scene of the crime to obtain a sick thrill.
Mr Wilson added that he thought her missing sock was either used as a murder weapon, a gag or was taken as a trophy.
He said: "I think this was an opportunistic killing within a broad circle of friends and acquaintances.
"I still think the killer is in Bristol. Nothing strikes me as this being a stranger who perpetrated this murder and nothing suggests it is a serial killer.
"I don't fear this case is connected in any way to Melanie Hall or Claudia Lawrence, as I have seen reported in some papers.
"I actually think the police have a very good idea who they think did it. Police have to keep some information back because it allows them to rule in or rule out suspects.
"I always teach that murder is about access, opportunity and finally about motivation.
"Don't worry about the motivation initially.
"Worry about who has access to the victim and who has had the opportunity to use this access to effect the kill. Statistics show that 90 per cent of murders in England and Wales were cleared up in 2009.
"The reason those murders got cleared up in a huge number of cases is not because of DNA, CCTV or criminal profilers. It is the fact the murderers are often related or a friend, so it becomes quite easy to identify who the main suspects are."
Mr Wilson said he believed the killer acted alone, had a sexual motive and panicked when dumping the body.
He said: "I think it's only one person. There has been the phenomenon of people murdering in pairs such a husband and wife or two male friends working together in tandem but I don't think so in this case.
"I think there was sexual motivation because strangulation is a very intimate form of murder.
"Also the missing sock is either the murder weapon, was used to gag her or was taken as a trophy.
"Many murderers are trophy takers, as it is part of the fantasy. I think it is very relevant.
"I have visited the site of disposal and I don't think he intended to leave the body where it was left.
"I wonder whether he was frightened about being seen by another car or was physically not able to get the body over the wall. I imagine he was trying to get the body into the quarry beyond the wall.
"I do think the perpetrator of this murder has had some luck. "Police have never really been able to establish a timeline because her body was frozen, so when she died is very difficult to establish.
"If the body had not been frozen, and this has worked to the perpetrator's advantage, a good solid timeline would have allowed police to rule in and out suspects.
"I think the key will be DNA."
Mr Wilson said the killer would find it difficult not to visit the scene of the crime, partly because the case had attracted such a high level of media attention.
He said: "It would not surprise me if the killer had been to the scene of the crime as part of the thrill. It is all part of the power and control, and why they commit the crime in the first place.
"Killers very often follow very carefully how the case is being reported in the press or broadcasts on the news. Often they gain satisfaction from these reports and how they are being discussed.
"Some killers like the fear they engender in the community. Some like to feel they have done one over on the police and the public. It is the extension of their power.
"Think about Ian Huntley and the Soham murders. He was constantly in the media and propelling himself into the spotlight.
"By and large the Evening Post is the one the killer will be reading more than anything else on a regular basis.
"I know of one murderer who loved reading his local paper because it gave him such a thrill. 'It's me in the paper but nobody knows it's me' – he loved all that.
"Another killer called Dennis Rader (an American serial killer) was so annoyed at some press reports about who they thought was murdering people that he wrote to them saying they had got it wrong.
"It is all about arrogance, egotism and narcissism."
Miss Yeates was last seen alive on December 17 after drinking with colleagues at the Bristol Ram pub in Park Street.
She walked home visiting three shops and buying a pizza and two bottles of cider.
She was reported missing by her boyfriend Greg Reardon, 27, two days later when he returned home from a weekend away.
Her snow-covered body was found dumped on a verge in Longwood Lane on Christmas Day.
Miss Yeates' landlord Chris Jefferies, 65, a former teacher at Clifton College, was arrested on suspicion of murder on December 30 but released on police bail two days later.
The team working on the case, codenamed Operation Braid, now numbers 80 officers and the investigation is one of the biggest in the Avon and Somerset force's history. The team, which includes scientific, forensic and behavioural experts, is following up more than 1,000 lines of inquiry.
Yesterday the mother of murdered teenager Louise Smith, 18, called for police to carry out DNA tests in Clifton if they had obtained any samples from Miss Yeates' body.
Police have refused to confirm or deny whether a sample of DNA has been found on her body or at her flat.
The Sun newspaper has offered a £50,000 reward for finding Miss Yeates' killer while Avon & Somerset police have retracted a complaint made to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom regarding the coverage of the case by ITV.
● Anyone with information about Miss Yeates' murder should call the police on 0845 456 7000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.