Killer's DNA found in 1996 UK cold case
Police have revealed they have the DNA of the killer of British woman Melanie Hall, whose murder remains one of the country's most beguiling cold cases 20 years on.
Ms Hall was last seen in 1996, sitting on a stool at the edge of a nightclub dancefloor in a Bath, southwest England, at about 1am. She was 25.
A nationwide campaign to find Ms Hall and a reward of £50,000 ($91,484 AUD) failed to find her killer.
More than a decade after her disappearance, in 2009, police discovered human remains half buried in undergrowth off the side of a motorway slip road.
They were identified as Ms Hall.
Today, on the 20th anniversary of her murder, Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that a length of polypropylene rope used to tie up Ms Hall contained DNA of the killer.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector James Riccio said the rope was wrapped around black bin liners which contained Ms Hall's body.
"We recovered a 13-metre length of 4mm rope from the scene, made up from four separate lengths knotted together. In addition to the three knots joining the ropes, there were four other knots on the rope – a total of seven knots," detective Riccio said.
"It's commercially manufactured rope and commonly used on building sites and for drawing electrical cable through trunking."
He said the evidence tells police Ms Hall's body was dumped hastily and by a person or persons who had knowledge of the motorway.
"The person who deposited the body may not be the person who killed Melanie. If this is the case, I'm directly appealing to this person to come forward and provide us with information for the sake of Melanie's family," he said.
"You've been living with a dark secret for years but your guilt and fear is nothing compared to the enduring pain felt by Melanie's family. I want to be clear – our primary focus is on identifying the person or persons who killed Melanie."
Ms Hall's father Steve said her family has little hope that her killer will ever be caught, although they remain optimistic.
"The lives of the person responsible and those others who know what happened that night are governed by a totally different set of rules and moral responsibilities from the rest of us," Mr Hall said.
"We are sure that, after all these years they will happily take their awful secret to the grave as we will do the same with our grief.
"I take stock. A daughter who is dead, a wife who just stares at the wall, a sister who struggles to get her day together, a one-hundred-year-old grandmother who sits in a home with soft memories and a father who puts it in all a box and tries to shut the lid – so we all carry on."
Avon and Somerset Police have received 1,751 calls from the public about Ms Hall's disappearance, taken 1,668 statements and made 11 arrests. No one has ever been charged.