28 Dec 2010

Joanna Yeates’ father ‘relieved’

As police in Somerset reveal that 25-year-old Joanna Yeates was strangled to death, her father says he is sure “police know more” but is relieved to be reunited with her body.

Police revealed results of the post mortem examination today, but remained tight lipped about the circumstances of her death, stressing that it is still early days in what is now a murder investigation.

However, a tearful David Yeates told Solent News: “We are sure the police know more about what happened than they are telling us but at the moment we are not questioning them because we feel they are doing their best.”

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones of Avon and Somerset Police who is leading the investigation said Joanna, who disappeared on Friday, December 17, had died as a result of compression of the neck. Detectives believe her body lay there for several days before it was discovered on Christmas day.

Speaking from his home in Ampfield, Hampshire, Mr Yeates said that it was a relief to see her body.

Things were made just that little bit less terrible when we saw Jo’s body. David Yeates

“Hearing Jo had been murdered was not a surprise because we had been told to prepare for the worst,” he said.

“Since hearing about her death, all sorts of things have been running through our mind and we are trying to rationalise what has happened,” he added.

Last week was worst of their lives, he said, adding that he and his wife Thersea are hoping never to have to go through anything like it again.

“Things were made just that little bit less terrible when we saw Jo’s body yesterday,” Mr Yeates said.

“I fear that whoever has done this will never hand themselves in but we live in hope that the police will catch who is responsible.”

Somebody out there does know what happened to Joanna, somebody out there has vital information. DCI Jones

DCI Jones said there were no other “significant” marks found on her body but that police were “still keeping an open mind” as to whether she had been sexually assualted.

DCI Jones said there were a number of lines of enquiry to follow, adding that he was “not prepared to speculate” on possible suspects.

He reiterated the reasoning behind the delay to the post-mortem; claiming: “The reason why there was a delay with the post-mortem was due to the fact that the body had been in situ for a number of days, we’ve had extreme weather conditions and the body was frozen. No other reasons than that”.

DCI Jones appealed for any information about her murder, adding: “Somebody out there does know what happened to Joanna, somebody out there has vital information.”

Joanna Yeates was strangled, say police, who are now investigating her murder

Speaking at a press conference he said police believed her body had been at the spot where she was found for several days.

“What we have to do next is to try and find out why she was killed and who was responsible,” he added.

It emerged today that Miss Yeates had stopped off at an off-licence to buy a small bottle of cider.

She stopped at Bargain Booze, near the Tesco Express where she bought pizza on her way home.

Robin Paine, who was working in the off-licence that evening, said: “I don’t remember serving her and it was the Friday night before Christmas, between 8pm and 9pm and it is very, very busy.

“I spoke to the detectives and I said I didn’t remember serving her. They came and took away the CCTV because they said she had been in here.”

Miss Yeates’ snow-covered body was found by dog walkers on Christmas Day. Her parents identified her body yesterday before laying floral tributes at the site where she was found.

They were joined at the spot near Bristol and Clifton Golf Club, in the Failand area of North Somerset, by Miss Yeates’ brother Chris and boyfriend Greg Reardon.

Mr Reardon, 27, was the first person to report Miss Yeates as missing on Sunday night. Yesterday, he laid a bouquet of yellow and red roses at the roadside close to where her body was discovered.

Police today appealed to the public to come forward with any information they might have, however seemingly insignificant.

Anyone who can help the investigation can call the Operation Braid incident room on 0845 456 7000 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.