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Monday, 1 April, 2002, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
Dead prostitute found in woodland
The area where the body was found
Michelle Bettles's body was found fully clothed
A murder inquiry is under way after the body of a young woman was found in woods.

The body of Norwich prostitute Michelle Bettles, 22, was discovered by a man walking his dog on Sunday morning at Scarning, near Dereham, Norfolk.

The victim, who was last seen alive in Norwich on Thursday evening, was found near an isolated tree-lined lane less than half a mile from the A47 trunk road.

Michelle's body was found clothed, but her trademark long black leather coat, as well as her handbag and other personal items, were missing.

Sensitive inquiry

Police are keeping an open mind on any possible links between her death and fate of three other prostitutes from the city over the past 10 years.

Detective Superintendent Chris Grant said: "I am very aware of the history of Norwich involving the murder and/or disappearance of women, and I am keeping very much an open mind.

"I have nothing at the moment to suggest that these incidents are in any way connected - nor can I exclude that they might be connected."

A post mortem at Norfolk and Norwich Unviersity Hospital by pathologist Dr Michael Heath established the cause of Michelle's death.

But police are not yet revealing how Michelle was killed.


I am very aware of the history of Norwich involving the murder and/or disappearance of women and I am keeping very much an open mind

Detective Superintendent Chris Grant, Norfolk Police

Police would like to speak to anyone who knew Michelle, including any other prostitutes in the city and their clients.

Mr Grant said: "I am treating it as a murder inquiry but, for reasons I wish to keep confidential at this time, I don't wish to give the cause of death except to say she was killed by another person.

"We do not know what happened to her between Thursday and the discovery of her body on Sunday morning."

Officers recognise that the information is personal and could cause embarrassment and say people will be dealt with sensitively.

Missing prostitute

It is the fourth time in the past decade that a Norwich prostitute has either been murdered or vanished.

Hayley Curtis, 23, went missing in October. Her body was found in a ditch by the side of the A3 close to Petersfield, in January.

The cause of her death remains unclear, police said.

It is believed that her remains were in the ditch for several weeks.

Kellie Pratt, 29, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, disappeared from Norwich 18 months ago.

Natalie Pearman, 16, was found strangled 10 years ago in the Ringland Hills area of Norwich in 1992.


Click here to go to Norfolk
See also:

08 Jan 02 | England
Police prostitute deaths inquiry
14 Feb 01 | Scotland
Missing woman traced by police
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