30 Dec 2010

Joanna Yeates murder: landlord questioned

Chris Jefferies, the landlord of landscape architect Joanna Yeates, was arrested this morning in connection with her murder. Jane Deith looks into the development.

Christopher Jefferies, 65, was arrested at his home in Canynge Road, Clifton, at 7am and taken into custody for questioning.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “Just after 7am this morning police attended an address in Canynge Road and arrested a 65-year-old man on suspicion of murder.

“He has been taken into custody at a police station within the Avon and Somerset force area and detained for questioning.

“Detectives investigating Joanna’s murder are continuing to carry out forensic examinations, and are also continuing to appeal for anyone with any information that can help the inquiry to call the Operation Braid incident room on 0845 456 7000 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Today, while Mr Jefferies was being questioned, police took away his car and several bags of material from his flat.

Detectives continue to investigate the murder of Joanna Yeates in Bristol

Mr Jefferies, a retired public school teacher, has been unclear about whether he saw Ms Yeates leaving her flat with two people on the night she disappeared.

Detectives can hold Christopher Jefferies until 7pm on Friday, when they will either have to charge him or apply to a magistrate for more time to question him.

David Yeates, Joanna’s father, told the Southern Daily Echo today he was pleased that an arrest had been made in connection with his daughter’s murder.

He said: “At the end of the day, obviously I’m not happy bcause my daughter is still dead. But we are pleased the police have made an arrest as they have been working very hard to make progress in this case.”

Joanna Yeates lived in a ground-floor flat in Canynge Road with her boyfriend, Greg Reardon, 27. Mr Jefferies, who lived above the couple, reportedly told police he saw three people leaving the block of flats at around 9pm on 17 December as he parked his car in the street.

However, speaking to Sky News, Mr Jefferies denied he had told police he saw Ms Yeates leaving with two unidentified people.

Joanna Yeates disappeared on the evening of Friday 17 December. Her boyfriend, Greg Reardon, with whom she lived, reported her missing on 19 December after returning home from a weekend in Sheffield.

Her body was discovered near a golf club in north Somerset on 25 December and identified the following day.

Timeline: Joanna Yeates’s murder
17 December 2010

Miss Yeates, 25, leaves the architectural firm where she worked with boyfriend Greg Reardon, 27, and joins colleagues in the Ram pub in Park Street for a drink.

She leaves the Ram to walk the 20-minute journey home from the city centre to Clifton.

Miss Yeates is caught on CCTV in a Waitrose supermarket in the Clifton Triangle

She uses her mobile phone to ring her best friend Rebecca Scott and arranges to meet on Christmas Eve.

At a Tesco Express on Regent Street in Clifton Village, about a quarter of mile from her flat, Miss Yeates buys a pizza, which is missing.

Police believe she returned home to her flat in Canynge Road, which she shared with Mr Reardon. A receipt from Tesco was found in the flat, along with a cream-coloured coat she had been wearing and her mobile phone and keys.

19 December
Mr Reardon reports Miss Yeates missing when he returns to Bristol from a weekend away visiting relatives in Sheffield.

20 December
Avon and Somerset Police make their first appeal for information over Miss Yeates’s disappearance. Officers said they were concerned for safety because it was out of character.

21 December
Miss Yeates’s parents, David and Theresa, appeal for information at a police press conference in Bristol.

They said: “Jo, whatever the reason that you have not been in touch over the last few days, we want you to know that we love you dearly and are desperate to know that you are safe and well.

“Please get in touch as soon as possible. Either to the police or anyone who can confirm you are OK.”

22 December
Mr Reardon speaks of his distress at the disappearance of his girlfriend.

“I desperately want her back. I thought we would be together forever,” he says from Miss Yeates’s parents home in Ampfield, Hampshire.

“She was my future. This Christmas was going to be our first together. I was going to spend it with her family, which is always a big deal for a boyfriend.

“We were both really happy in our jobs – we worked together and that’s how we met.”

Specialist officers have been searching the couple’s flat, as well as the snowy Bristol Downs and Avon Gorge.

They have also taken a phone and laptop computer from Mr Reardon as part of the inquiry.

23 December
Miss Yeates’s parents make a second tearful appeal and reveal their fears that their daughter has been abducted.

Mr Yeates begs her potential kidnapper: “If she’s dead, please tell somebody where she is.

“I think she was abducted after getting home to her flat. I have no idea of the circumstances of the abduction because of what was left behind.

“I feel sure she would not have gone out by herself leaving all these things behind and she was taken away somewhere.”

Detectives said that when Miss Yeates was in the Tesco Express she had bought a Tesco Finest tomato, mozzarella and basil pesto pizza. However, there was no trace of the pizza, the wrapping or the box in her flat.

24 December
CCTV footage of missing Joanna Yeates is released, showing her buying a pizza at her local Tesco in Clifton village, Bristol, on the night of her disappearance.

25 December
Police searching for the body of Joanna Yeates find a female body near a golf club in the Failand area of north Somerset.

26 December
Police say they are satisfied that the body found on Christmas Day in north Somerset is that of Joanna Yeates.

27 December
Joanna Yeates’s parents, David and Theresa, lay a bouquet at the spot where their daughter’s body was found.

Avon and Somerset Police announce that the frozen condition of Ms Yeates’s body when it was found mean they have been unable to conclude the post mortem.

28 December
After a post mortem on Joanna Yeates, Avon and Somerset Police say she died as a result of compression to the neck.

Joanna Yeates’s father, David Yates, tells Solent News it had been a relief to see his daughter’s body, admitting that he and his wife had been told “to prepare for the worst”.

29 December
New CCTV film is released of Joanna Yeates visiting an off licence on 17 December, the night she disappeared.

Police confirm they are investigating whether Ms Yeates was seen leaving her flat with two other people on the evening of 17 December.

30 December
Police take Chris Jefferies, Joanna Yeates’s landlord, into custody for questioning in connection with the landscape architect’s murder.

If you have any information in connection with the murder of Joanna Yeates, call the Operation Braid incident room on 0845 456 7000 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111