Melanie murder: man, 38, arrested
DETECTIVES were last night questioning a 38- year-old man in connection with the murder of Melanie Hall and the disposal of her body.
The sensational development is a major breakthrough for the 14-year long inquiry and follows the discovery of the hospital worker's body near junction 14 on the M5 at Thornbury in October last year.
Melanie, who lived with her parents Pat and Steve in Bradford Leigh, near Bradford on Avon, was last seen on the dance floor at Cadillacs nightclub in Walcot Street, Bath, in the early hours of June 9, 1996.
The 38-year-old man, who is from Bath, was arrested after voluntarily going to the police station in Manvers Street in the city yesterday morning. He is now being held at a station within the Avon and Somerset force area.
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The arrest is part of an investigation into one of the many lines of inquiry that have been carried out by the police since Melanie's body was found.
And it is the first significant arrest in this case since her remains were discovered bound in rope and dumped in a black bin bag.
Last night in a statement, Detective Superintendent Mike Courtiour – who has been heading the investigation since her remains were found – said: "This is obviously a significant development after 14 years but I must stress that our investigation is still very much ongoing.
"Melanie's parents, Pat and Steve Hall, are always kept informed and are aware that we have made an arrest.
"This is part of the investigation that has been going on now for eight months since Melanie's body was discovered.
"In that time the investigation team has continued to work tirelessly, following up new information we have received and revisiting the previous investigations that followed Melanie's disappearance from Walcot Street in June 1996.
"An additional 250 statements have been taken and 1,200 new tasks and investigative actions have been completed. Today's arrest was one such action.
"I once again urge anyone with information to come forward and provide us with the information and evidence we need to identify Melanie's killer or killers and bring them to justice."
When she was found her body had been stripped of all clothing and jewellery except a treasured ring given to her by her grandmother, which was left on her finger and proved to be the key to identifying Melanie.
A detailed search of the scene where she was found failed to find any evidence of clothing, such as a dress zip or buttons, which would have been expected despite the length of time since she vanished.
Officers say it is possible the killer kept an item of her clothing as a trophy.
Codenamed Operation Denmark, the 15-strong police team has been liaising with the National Policing Improvement Agency, which is helping with geographical and behavioural profiling, and the Serious Crime Analysis Section, which looks at whether other crimes could be linked to Melanie's murder.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Murder Incident Room on 0117 945 5811 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.