Page last updated at 05:01 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 06:01 UK

Murder detectives head to Italy

Heather Barnett
Ms Barnett was found to have strands of cut hair in her hand

Detectives investigating the murder of a woman seven years ago have travelled to Italy in a bid to catch her killer.

Heather Barnett was found mutilated in her Bournemouth home with strands of cut hair placed in her right hand.

Detectives have been taking DNA from 15 women in Italy who had their hair cut in suspicious circumstances.

They want to find the owner of the hair which was placed in the victim's hand - in the hope it could lead them to the killer.

The women - from Rome, Potenza, Turin and Milan - had all reported the "unusual hair-cutting occurrences" after seeing an item about the murder investigation on the Italian TV version of BBC's Crimewatch - Chi l'ha visto - two years ago.

Forensic experts believed the hair found in Ms Barnett's hand belonged to someone who had visited Spain or France in the weeks before the hair was cut.

Investigators say they are following "several lines of specific, detailed and continuing inquiry".

They are also renewing appeals to find a man filmed on CCTV near the scene on the day of the murder and are asking for help in finding the owner of a Nike Terra Part Stormy training shoe, which left a print in blood at the scene.

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The 48-year-old mother of two was found dead at her home in Capstone Road in the Charminster area of Bournemouth by her two children, Caitlin, then aged 11, and Terry, then aged 14, just after 1600 GMT on 12 November 2002.

She had been stabbed, mutilated and hit on the head with a hammer-like object.

Dorset Police think Ms Barnett's murder could be linked to the disappearance of Elisa Claps in Italy. The 16 year old vanished in 1993 and has never been found.

Heather Barnett's sister Denise and brother Ben want the killer off the streets

Police had been investigating whether there was a possible hair fetish link between Miss Claps's disappearance and Ms Barnett's case.

Heather's sister, Denise Barnett, said: "Somewhere out there, there is a killer on the loose. And someone who is able to plan ahead and to have no compassion, particularly for the children. The most important thing is to see that killer off the streets."

Supt Mark Cooper, of Dorset Police, said: "The Heather Barnett murder investigation is never closed and we remain as resolute and committed to catching her brutal killer as we were in the days and weeks after Heather's tragic death.

"This is an unusual murder case and the professional and focused investigation continues to be a challenge."

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