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article imageCold case: UK Police finally solve 1975 brutal prostitute murder

By Kev Hedges     Feb 9, 2011 in Crime
Preston - Police in Lancashire, north England have finally solved the murder of a 26-year-old woman bludgeoned, battered and left to die in a disused garage over 35 years-ago.
When Joan Harrison's body was discovered in Preston it was thought the Yorkshire Ripper was responsible. The Ripper, serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, murdered thirteen women and attacked seven others during the late 1970s.
Police efforts to trace Ms Harrison's killer were further hampered at the time by a hoaxer called Wearside Jack. He claimed to be the Ripper and in one of three letters sent in 1978 to West Yorkshire Police and the Daily Mirror newspaper, he confessed to killing Ms Harrison. The hoaxer was John Samuel Humble who was not convicted until 2006. He was sentenced to eight years by Leeds Crown Court.
The 35-year-old murder case has now been solved thanks to advances in DNA evidence. Forensic experts have linked DNA found on Ms Harrison's body to that of Christopher Smith from Leeds, who died in 2008 aged 60, reports BBC Lancashire.
He was linked after being stopped for a drink-driving offence in 2008, his DNA was taken. He died six days later from a terminal illness. His police record showed he had convictions for assault, robbery and sex attacks. Police said Smith had left a three-page note the day before he died admitting the murder.
Two how (sic) ever it concerns I would like to put the record straight. I can't go on with the guilt. I have lived with it for over 20 years. I am truly sorry for all the pain I have caused to anyone. Please believe me when I say I am sorry. I love my grandkids and my daughter. I cannot go back to prison anymore. Please God help my family who I worship. I have been out of trouble for over 20 years so please Gold help me. I am so sorry. God forgive me. I love you all forever
Police say Christopher Smith would have faced charges if he was still alive. Mrs Harrison's family were being offered support by trained officers, reports state in London Evening Standard.
Detective Chief Supt Graham Gardner, head of crime for Lancashire Constabulary, said: "Advances in DNA interpretation over the years has finally allowed us to identify Smith as the man at the scene of Joan's murder. That fact, coupled with other evidence we have gathered over recent months, has been sufficient to convince the Crown Prosecution Service that Smith would have been charged with her murder, had he been alive today".
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