Strangler police hunt BMW Pole
15th December 2006
A migrant worker from Eastern Europe is being sought by police investigating the Suffolk strangler murders.
The man - who has not been seen since Wednesday - drives a dark blue BMW similar to the one in which victim Anneli Alderton was last seen alive.
He works on a farm close to where more than one of the serial killer's five victims were found.
His BMW has been left parked near his home, and a police forensic team spent yesterday afternoon examining the car for any evidence linking it to the victims.
Police believe the man may have vital information which could help them with the inquiry.
As well as the link between a BMW driver and Anneli, there were also reports last night that victim Annette Nicholls was seen getting into a BMW at around the time she disappeared.
The fresh twist came as police confirmed that one of two bodies discovered on Tuesday is that of missing prostitute Paula Clennell, 24. A post-mortem examination confirmed that she had been strangled.
There was also speculation yesterday that the killer may have plied his victims with drugs to subdue them before throttling them. All of the girls were drug addicts, and none of them appeared to have put up a fight as they were murdered.
Last night Ipswich town centre was enclosed by a "ring of steel" with specialist police surveillance vans stationed on every road going into the town which can record every car going in and out of the centre.
Suffolk police said they were keen to eliminate the migrant worker from their inquiry after a member of the public reported seeing the BMW parked on a dirt track outside Ipswich.
The spot is just a short drive from where Paula Clennell, Anneli Alderton, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29, were found dead earlier this week.
The stream where victims Gemma Adams, 25, and Tania Nicol, 19, were found is within 15 minutes by car.
The witness who reported the car to police, who spoke to the Daily Mail on condition of anonymity, said: "I noticed the BMW parked on a dirt track and because it matched the description of the car the police were looking for and because it was so close to where the bodies were found, I tried to find out who it belonged to.
"I spoke to someone who knows the owner of the car and he isn't around at the moment.
"I phoned the police and a forensic team was sent down to examine the car. It might just be a coincidence but it was too obvious to ignore."
Last night the BMW was no longer parked on the track and there was no-one at the man's home, where the lights had been left on all day.
The driver is understood to be one of thousands of migrant workers who arrive in Suffolk every year via the nearby port of Felixstowe to take up seasonal jobs in agriculture.
A Suffolk Police spokesman said: "This is a line of inquiry our officers are following up. It is one of many lines of inquiry which is being looked at."
Anneli, 24, was seen in the middle of last week getting into a dark blue BMW with a "chubby" kerb crawler, thought to be the last time she was seen alive.
Annette Nicholls went missing on December 3 or 4, and a witness has contacted police to say she was seen getting into a BMW about two weeks ago.
It also emerged yesterday that a man driving a similar car was seen acting "suspiciously" outside a massage parlour last week.
A security guard was so concerned about the driver's odd behaviour that he noted down the car's numberplate - providing a potentially vital clue.
The driver was seen "peering intently" into the Aquarius salon in Ipswich, moving his car backwards and forwards to get a better view, less than 48 hours before Anneli was found strangled.
When the security man went to investigate, he sped away.
The sighting of the BMW outside Aquarius happened either last Tuesday or Wednesday.
Anneli's naked body was seen dumped by a roadside near Nacton, Suffolk, on Thursday last week, though it was mistaken for a mannequin at the time and police were not alerted until Sunday.
A security guard called Mark, who works part-time at Aquarius, said: "The driver of this car was behaving very strangely in our car park at the back of the premises.
"First he repeatedly reversed backwards and forwards outside our door, then he parked up on the far side of the car park and was reversing backwards and forwards again. He was revving his engine and then stopping.
"It appeared like he was trying to adjust the position of his car so he could get the best view up to the window of our first floor premises.
"At one stage he put on his interior light as he was peering intently at the window."
Mark said he went outside and got into his own car, shining his headlights on the BMW, which sped off.
Mark, 43, said the car was "quite a dark blue BMW" with brightly-coloured gold alloy wheels. He recorded the registration on his mobile phone and has passed the information on to police.
Last night police renewed appeals for members of the public to be on the lookout for the victims' clothing, which may have been dumped by the killer.
All five victims had been stripped naked, almost certainly to remove any forensic evidence the killer might have left on their clothes.
Last night police sources said they were still seeking the driver of the BMW who picked up Anneli.
A post mortem examination found that Paula had died from "compression of the neck."
More than 5,000 calls have now been received by the incident room along with more than 1,000 e-mails.
They are being analysed by more than 300 police officers and staff from eight forces.
Records of the mobile phones used by the five murdered prostitutes may also have plotted a silent trail to help police trap her killer.
Detectives are studying computer data of each handset's last signals to discover where they went and create a crucial timeline to piece together their last movements.
The trail comes from a series of silent transmissions that every mobile phone sends out.
Each signal creates a timed computer log of the handset's movements, which can be plotted on a map using information from phone mast locations.
The same technology was used to expose Soham killer Ian Huntley as a liar - and to confirm that the signal from murdered schoolgirl Jessica Chapman's phone died at Huntley's home shortly after she and her friend Holly Wells walked into his clutches.
Meanwhile charities have started paying prostitutes in Ipswich to stay off the streets while the killer is at large.