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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Police urged to delay exhuming suspect
Pauline Floyd and Geraldine Hughes
Pauline Floyd and Geraldine Hughes were on a night out
The family of a man suspected of killing three teenage girls in south Wales in 1973 want the exhumation of his body postponed because it will mean disturbing his stepfather's grave at the same time.

Joe Kappen, who lived in Port Talbot, is one of three family members buried in a plot at Goytre Cemetery in the town.

The family want this matter cleared up and are not opposed to the exhumation, but the timing could have been better

Member of the Kappen family

Police believe he was the man who murdered Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd at Llandarcy, near Neath, in September 1973, and possibly a third teenager three months earlier.

Mr Kappen's family want the planned exhumation to be postponed from 16 May, because it is the day after the 10th anniversary of the death of his stepfather.

They want to lay flowers for Clemente Proietti, who is buried above Mr Kappen in the grave.

Prime suspect

Detectives from Operation Magnum want to examine the remains of the nightclub doorman to see if his DNA matches evidence kept from the murder scene.

Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd were found raped and strangled in woodland at Llandarcy.

Sandra Newton
Sandra Newton met a violent death

The girls were thought to have hitched a ride home from the Top Rank club in Swansea.

Despite a massive police investigation no one was ever convicted of their murder.

Police believe the culprit may also have killed Sandra Newton, 16, as she left a club in Briton Ferry three months earlier.

Mr Kappen died of cancer at the age of 48 in 1990.

His Italian stepfather died on 15 May two years later.

Bad timing

South Wales Police have secured Home Office permission to exhume Mr Kappen's body on 16 May, but preparatory work will start the day before.

The choice of date for the exhumation has appalled the family.

One relative, who did not want to be identified, said: "The police called in to see us on the day they made the announcement.

Search for victims of Llandarcy woods double murder
The 1973 murders sparked a massive inquiry

"It was only after they had gone we realised the conflict of the start of the work on the sad and reflective day of Clemente's death.

"A couple of days longer now would not make any difference."

The relative said the family was certain Mr Kappen was innocent of the murders.

"None of us believe Joe was capable of the crimes suggested - he was not the type of man who would go to the grave with these horrific secrets," he said.

"The family want this matter cleared up and are not opposed to the exhumation.

"But the timing could have been better."

A police spokesman confirmed that officers had spoken to the family, but denied they had agreed to postpone the exhumation.

Where I Live, South West Wales
See also:

26 Apr 02 | Wales
Murders suspect to be exhumed
19 Dec 01 | Wales
Murders suspect may be exhumed
19 Dec 01 | Wales
Dead murders suspect is named
29 Oct 01 | Wales
Woodland murders 'breakthrough'
15 Sep 01 | Wales
Fresh appeal on woods murders
13 Jun 01 | Wales
Website hope for woods murder
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