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Tuesday, November 18, 1997 Published at 16:21 GMT


Bloodstained suspect hunted in Bushell murder

The murder of Kate Bushell was called a "mindless attack"

Detectives hunting the killer of 14-year-old Kate Bushell are hunting a bloodstained man who ran from the scene just minutes after the brutal murder.

The man was spotted fleeing from the scene at exactly the time when the girl's father found the body. She had had her throat cut as she walked a friend's dog in fields near her home at Exwick, Devon.

On Monday night, 2,000 posters were put up around the city to try to jog people's memories. The response, according to a BBC correspondent, has been overwhelming.

A London businessman has offered a 20,000 reward in addition to the 5,000 already offered by a national newspaper.

[ image: Frogmen hunt for the murder weapon in a nearby pond]
Frogmen hunt for the murder weapon in a nearby pond
Police frogmen are searching a pond a few hundred yards from the murder scene, which is also close to the spot at Kinnerton Way where the bloodstained man was seen. They are hoping to find a discarded weapon or clothes worn by the murderer.

The search for suspects

The police are currently looking for two men.

Detective Superintendent Michael Stephens, who is leading the investigation, described the first man, seen fleeing the scene at the time of the murder, as 5'10" to 5'11" tall, aged 30 to 35, of medium build with brown hair and a short moustache. He is reported to have been wearing jeans, muddy trainers and a blue sweatshirt with red stains on the front which could have been blood.

In the last two months there have also been several sightings of a scruffy man in his late 30s or 40s with straggly salt and pepper hair who is very thick set with facial stubble and who wears a brown check overcoat and black boots.

The police have had around 300 calls from the public but still need to hear from more witnesses and are particularly keen to speak to anyone else who saw the mystery man fleeing the scene.

Family friends speak out

[ image: Kate was walking the Smiths' dog when she was killed]
Kate was walking the Smiths' dog when she was killed
Stuart and Alison Smith, the owners of the Jack Russell dog that Kate was walking, told of their grief and guilt about the killing. Kate was a regular babysitter to their three children and a close family friend.

The Smiths are the best friends of Kate's 44-year-old father Jeremy and 41-year-old mother Susan.

"We are very shocked by the killing. In the past it has always been such a safe area that we have not worried about the children going out. We used to let our oldest daughter Kate walk the 100 yards to her school but now we are escorting all our children everywhere," Ms Smith said.

The Smiths said that Kate Bushell minded their children and the dog, Gemma, only when they were away.

"As far as I am aware she took different routes when she walked the dog. I used to take Gemma on the same walk around the fields because it is a nice circular route back to home," Mr Smith said.

"Everyone in the area is very concerned. We now take every precaution with our own children and chaperone them wherever they go," he added.

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