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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 16:27 GMT
Italian link to mother's murder
Heather Barnett
The body of Ms Barnett was found clutching someone else's hair
Italian investigators have confirmed they are following up new leads in a murder inquiry connected to the brutal killing of a mother-of-two in Dorset.

Police believe the disappearance of a 16-year-old Italian woman is linked to the death of Heather Barnett, 48, in her flat in Bournemouth in 2002.

The key to both cases appears to be the attacker's fetish for women's hair.

An appeal on Italian television to find Elisa Claps resulted in several calls from people with fresh information.

It is difficult to comprehend why someone would bring with him to a murder scene someone else's head hair
Det Supt Phil James
The body of Ms Barnett, who grew up in Sturminster Newton in Dorset, was found with strands of hair that did not belong to her.

She had been stabbed several times, hit over the head with a blunt object and her body was mutilated.

The discovery was made by her son Terry, who was then 14, and his 11-year-old sister, Caitlin, when they returned home from school.

Despite extensive inquiries police have failed to trace who the hair found in Ms Barnett's hand belonged to.

As part of the police investigation it emerged that more than 10 women had some of their hair cut off while travelling on buses in Bournemouth.

Elisa Claps
Elisa Claps, 19, vanished in Potenza in 1993
Det Supt Phil James said: "The fact that the killer of Heather Barnett placed head hair in her hand, which the killer had brought with him to the murder scene, is extremely unusual and bizarre in its nature.

"It is difficult to comprehend why someone would bring with him to a murder scene someone else's head hair."

Police believe Ms Barnett's murder is connected with the disappearance of Elisa Claps, who vanished in Potenza in 1993, and whose body has never been found.

An appeal on the Italian version of Crimewatch, Chi I'ha Visto, resulted in five women from the Naples area contacting police to say they had their hair cut while travelling on buses.

Detectives in Italy are now liaising with police in Dorset over the new information.


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