Page last updated at 19:58 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Body found in Heather Barnett murder link inquiry

Heather Barnett
Ms Barnett was found to have strands of cut hair in her hand

A body found in Italy is thought to be that of a 16-year-old girl whose 1993 disappearance could be linked to the murder of a Dorset mother-of-two.

A body was found on Wednesday in a church in Potenza, where Italian teenager Elisa Claps lived.

Dorset Police have been to Italy many times to investigate a possible link with the murder of Heather Barnett.

Ms Barnett, 48, was found mutilated in her Bournemouth home in 2002 with strands of cut hair placed in her hand.

Her body was found by her two children, then aged 14 and 11, in the bathroom of her home in Capstone Road, Charminster.

It is believed that the discovery was made by workmen carrying out repairs to the church roof
Dorset Police

The seamstress had been hit over the head with a hammer-like object, stabbed several times and the hair placed in her right hand.

Dorset officers have been investigating whether there was a possible hair fetish link between Miss Claps's disappearance and Ms Barnett's case.

On their last visit to Italy in October, they took DNA from 15 women who had had their hair cut in suspicious circumstances, in the hope that this could lead them to Ms Barnett's killer.

The women from - Rome, Potenza, Turin and Milan - all contacted police after seeing an item about Ms Barnett's murder on Italian TV's version of BBC Crimewatch.

Elisa Claps
Sixteen-year-old Elisa Claps disappeared in Potenza in 1993

A Dorset Police spokesman said: "Dorset Police has been made aware of the discovery of a body in the church at Potenza yesterday, Wednesday, 17 March 2010, believed to be that of missing Italian teenager Elisa Claps.

"We understand that a formal identification of the body has yet to be made and it is believed that the discovery was made by workmen carrying out repairs to the church roof.

"We are continuing our normal contact with the Italian police and other authorities - and will continue to assist them if and when asked."

In October, Dorset Police also renewed its appeal to find a man filmed on CCTV near Ms Barnett's home on the day of the murder.

They also asked for help in finding the owner of a Nike Terra Part Stormy training shoe, which left a print in blood at the scene.

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