- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

12:46 p.m.

IPSWICH, England — Police hunting the killer of five prostitutes in this bustling eastern town detained a second suspect today, swooping into the red-light district before dawn.

Detectives continued to question another suspect taken into custody yesterday, while colleagues on hands and knees searched the garden of his house outside Ipswich.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull said that both men were suspects in all five killings but that no charges had been filed against either.

The naked bodies of Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell, Gemma Adams and Annette Nicholls were found dumped in rural areas around Ipswich, 70 miles northeast of London, in a 10-day period beginning Dec. 2.

The latest arrest in a case that has frightened women in the area involved a 48-year-old man whose identity was not released.

Joe Franey, 50, who lives on the London Road in Ipswich, said he heard police banging on the door of a house two doors away about 5 a.m.

“He seemed quite composed, quite normal,” Mr. Franey said. He said the man and his partner had moved to the area recently. Police took away a dark blue Ford Mondeo, which Mr. Franey said his neighbor had acquired in the last five weeks.

Police also did not identify the 37-year-old suspect arrested yesterday in Trimley St. Martin, eight miles southeast of Ipswich, but news reports said he was Tom Stephens, a part-time taxi driver and former unpaid auxiliary police constable.

He had been quoted as telling the Sunday Mirror newspaper that he was innocent but that he knew all five of the victims and had previously been interviewed by police.

“I don’t have alibis for some of the times [of the killings], actually I’m not entirely sure I have tight alibis for any of the times. But I’m not worried about being charged. I’m innocent,” the paper quoted him as saying.

It also quoted Mr. Stephens as saying his house had been searched Nov. 22, more than a week before the first body was found.

Police in white overalls, hoods and face masks were seen in the garden of the home in Trimley St. Martin, at times on hands and knees probing the grass with gloved fingers.

Three of the bodies were found near the main road and the rail line between Ipswich and Trimley. The other two were discovered near the same road in areas south and southwest of Ipswich.

Miss Clennell, 24, died of compression to her neck, and Miss Alderton, 24, was strangled, a senior pathologist determined. Autopsies of the bodies of Miss Nicol, 19, Miss Nicholls, 29, and Miss Adams, 25, reached no conclusion on the cause of death.

The investigation had strained the resources of the Suffolk police force, England’s smallest, and 340 specialist investigators were brought in from across Britain to join 160 Suffolk officers working on the case.

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