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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 13:38 GMT
New leads in hair murder inquiry
Heather Barnett
The body of Ms Barnett was found by her children in November 2002
Police probing the murder of a woman have had a "positive response" to an appeal to trace the owner of cut hair placed in the victim's hands.

Heather Barnett, 48, was brutally stabbed in the attack at her home in Bournemouth, Dorset, in 2002.

Analysis of the hair showed where the owner had travelled before it was cut.

After the case appeared on BBC1's Crimewatch programme on Thursday, 21 people contacted police including women who thought the hair could be theirs.

Analysis of the 9cm (4in) strands of hair showed the owner visited an area between Valencia and Almeria in eastern Spain and the Marseille to Perpignan area of southern France for up to six days, some eleven weeks before the hair was cut.

Those calls are being analysed and followed up where appropriate
Det Supt Mark Cooper

Experts have been able to add that they visited the urban area of Tampa in Florida, US, for between eight and 17 days before the hair was cut.

Det Supt Mark Cooper, of Dorset Police, said: "We had a very positive response from the public to our appeal last night on the BBC's Crimewatch programme concerning the strands of cut hair found in Heather Barnett's right hand - hair that did not belong to Heather.

"A total of 21 phone calls from the public were received by our detectives in the Crimewatch studio as well as detectives with our major crime investigation team in Dorset.

"Those calls are being analysed and followed up where appropriate.

"Included in those calls were several from women from Dorset whose travel timescales and geographic patterns fit those outlined in the isotopic hair test analysis by Dr Stuart Black, of Reading University."

Elisa Claps
Elisa Claps, 16, vanished in Potenza in 1993

The body of Ms Barnett was discovered by her son, Terry, then 14, and Daughter, Caitlin, who was 11, in her flat in Capstone Road in Charminster on 12 November 2002.

Dorset Police are working with Interpol and the Italian authorities to investigate possible links with the disappearance of 16-year-old Elisa Claps, from Potenza in southern Italy, in September, 1993.

The body of Ms Claps has never been found.

Earlier in their inquiry, police revealed at least 14 women reported having their hair cut off on buses in Bournemouth.

They said tracing the owner of the hair found in Ms Barnett's hands could lead to a vital witness in the hunt for her killer.



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