Page last updated at 22:08 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Sister of murdered Bournemouth mother raises hopes

Denise Barnett's sister Heather was killed in 2002

The sister of a woman murdered in Bournemouth seven years ago hopes tests on a body in Italy will prove to be the "missing piece" in the case.

Heather Barnett, 48, was found mutilated in her home in 2002.

Remains found in a church in Potenza are thought to be of Elisa Claps. Police linked the 16-year-old's 1993 disappearance to Ms' Barnett's killing.

Denise Barnett told BBC News she "feared someone else going through the same sort of terrible experience".

At least for us with Heather's murder we did have a body, I hope the Claps family will now have the same
Heather Barnett's sister Denise

Dorset detectives have travelled to Italy several times investigating possible links to the case.

Denise Barnett said: "[The discovery] makes us a little more hopeful that this might be the missing piece of the jigsaw that helps put a full case together.

"My fear has always been that someone else will go through the same sort of terrible experience that my nephew and niece went through.

"At least for us with Heather's murder we did have a body, we do have a grave to visit. I hope the Claps family will now have the same."

Ms Barnett's mutilated body was discovered by her two children, then aged 14 and 11, in the bathroom of her home in Capstone Road, Charminster.

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

She had been hit over the head with a hammer-like object, stabbed several times and freshly cut strands of hair were placed in her right hand.

The human remains were found in the roof of the Most Holy Trinity church in Potenza last Wednesday. DNA tests are being carried out on them.

Ms Claps vanished on 12 September 1993.

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

During the investigative team's last visit to Italy in October, they took DNA from 15 women who had had their hair cut in suspicious circumstances.

The women had all contacted police after seeing an item about Ms Barnett's murder on Italian TV's version of BBC Crimewatch.

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