Mystery deepens and killer remains at large
The UK's media was dominated over the Christmas holidays by the tragic death of 25 year old BDP landscape architect, Joanna Yeates whose body was found in a frozen ditch near her Bristol home on Christmas day.
Jo was employed by BDP, in the Clifton area of Bristol, as part of a team designing landscapes for a new hospital in the Southmead area of the city. She enjoyed the outdoor life, rowing, surfing and snowboarding. Keith Pavey, director of BDP's Bristol studio, said she had had a great future ahead of her and was a popular member of staff. "She was a very professional designer," he said. "She worked very hard and was a good team player. She got on with everybody and was very well liked."
The unfolding story, starting with her disappearance on 19th December disclosed more details each day culminating in the arrest of her landlord, 65 year old Chris Jefferies on the 30th December, only to take another surprise turn when he was released on bail a few days later on January 1st.
The story is disturbing and particularly chilling for architects as it starts off in such an innocuous manner; A few drinks after work in the pub across the road from the office. Jo's boyfriend 27 year old Greg Reardon, also a Bristol based BDP architect, was visiting relatives in the north at the time of her disappearance. He returned to their flat on 19th December to find Jo missing but had left her bag and phone behind. The police then launched a missing persons enquiry and released store CCTV footage showing her last movements after leaving the Ram pub, buying drinks and a pizza. The mystery deepens as the receipts are found in her flat but not the pizza. There were also no signs of forced entry.
A couple out walking their dog on Christmas day discovered Jo's body at 9.00 GMT but it was some days later on the 28th December before the police confirmed that she had been strangled and launched a murder enquiry.
Having initially said that there was no increased risk to the public, on 2nd January the police issued a statement warning to women "not to walk home alone after dark as Miss Yeates' killer remains at large, and step up patrols in the Clifton area."
On the 3rd January the police asked for information about light-coloured 4x4 vehicle seen near to the area where Miss Yeates' body was found.
Even today, the 4th January events are still unfolding as police officers carrying forensics bags entered a £1.5 million detached house next door to Jo's flat. They spent more than an hour speaking to the owner of the property, Peter Stanley, and his tenant, Laurence Penney, 41, and later left carrying a small number of items in a brown forensic bag. Detectives took away for examination a maroon BMW car belonging to Mr Stanley, a 56-year-old mechanical engineer.
Meanwhile speculation is also appearing on a number of websites that landlord Chris Jefferies bought Jo's flat from a from a paedophile colleague who abused a young boy, it has emerged. Johnston, now 57, was jailed for seven years in March 2008 after being found guilty of six sex offences. Fellow Clifton College teacher Stephen Johnston used to live below Jefferies in Flat 1 of the building on 44 Canynge Road.
Commemoration preparations were under way today as the police investigation into Jo's death continued. Her employers, BDP, will decide in the coming days how they are going to mark the tragic event and remember her.
If you have any information which could help the investigation please contact the Operation Braid incident room on-line or call 0845 456 7000