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Tuesday, November 18, 1997 Published at 11:07 GMT


Schoolgirl victim of "mindless attack"

Kate Bushell loved music and played piano, clarinet and saxophone

A murdered schoolgirl whose body was discovered by her father, had her throat slashed, a post mortem showed.

Kate Bushell, 14, was found in a pool of blood in a field just 300 yards from her home.

Detective Superintendent Mike Stephens, who is leading the murder inquiry, said: "It was a mindless, ruthless attack, which ripped the girl's throat.

"This was a premeditated attack by a killer who had control of themselves and the victim."

Kate's dad, Jeremy, 44, called police on Saturday when she failed to return home from walking a dog belonging to neighbours.

Mr Bushell, of Exwick, Exeter, Devon, found the body when he searched the field with a police officer.

As more than 100 officers continued the murder hunt, Det Supt Stephens said they had not ruled out a sexual motive for the "horrific crime" as some of the teenager's clothing had been disturbed.

[ image: Leading the hunt: Detective Superintendent Mike Stephens]
Leading the hunt: Detective Superintendent Mike Stephens
Forensic tests were being carried out to establish if she had been sexually assaulted. Blood samples were also being tested.

Det Supt Stephens appealed to householders in the Exwick area to check their dustbins to see if any knives, sharp intsruments or bloodstained clothing had been thrown in them.

He added that the neighbours' Jack Russell terrier had been examined forensically to see whether there had been any transference of material, during the attack.

Det Supt Stephens said police needed to know about any suspicious individuals who had been seen in the area over the last few weeks.

Kate, described by friends as a caring, bright, music-loving youngster, was walking the dog as a favour for her neighbours who were away.

[ image: Police want any suspicious behaviour reported to the incident room]
Police want any suspicious behaviour reported to the incident room
When she failed to return to her home by 6.45pm, her father and mother Susan, 41, began a search of the estate by car, then called in the police when there was no sign of her.

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