Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Missing Italian girl's family lay claim to remains

Philomena Claps
Ms Claps says her family has been "destroyed"

The family of an Italian girl whose disappearance has been linked to a murdered Bournemouth mother claim recently found items were hers.

Remains found in a church in Potenza are thought to be of Elisa Claps, aged 16, who has been missing since 1993.

Police have been investigating a link between her and Heather Barnett who was found mutilated in her home in 2002.

In an interview with Italian TV station RAI TV Philomena Claps said she "recognised" her daughter's belongings.

I want [whoever] destroyed my family to rot in prison
Elisa's mother, Philomena

Speaking on Chi L'ah Visto - an Italian TV's version of BBC Crimewatch, Ms Claps said: "Elisa that morning was wearing a jumper I knitted her. It was large and white.

"I recognised Elisa's necklace, I knew her earrings; I recognised the shoes; I recognised everything she was wearing.

"I want who wrenched her away, who destroyed my family to rot and fester in prison."

Hundreds of floral tributes have been laid outside the Most Holy Trinity church in Potenza in southern Italy - where the body was discovered last Wednesday.

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

The remains were found bricked in a corner of a hard-to-reach rooftop garret by maintenance workers who had climbed to the roof to fix a leak.

DNA tests are being carried out to confirm if they belong to the teenager, who vanished on 12 September 1993.

BBC South Today Home Affairs Correspondent Damon Embling, who was also in Italy this week, said: "Although the body is yet to be formally identified 10,000 people marched through the streets [of the town] last week demanding justice for Elisa Claps."

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.

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

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.

Dorset officers, now in Italy, 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 Chi L'ah Visto.

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