Molseed murder team throws the net wider

11 April 2003
Rochdale Observer
Adam Derbyshire

Murder squad detectives have descended on Rochdale again as the hunt for Lesley Molseed's killer intensifies. Police have taken mouth swabs from dozens of men in the town after West Yorkshire Police disclosed this week that, after a fresh appeal, 90 people are listed as suspects for the 1975 killing of the 11-year-old. It is believed a significant chunk of those under suspicion are still living in the area. In fact, a top detective is convinced the murderer comes from Rochdale.

Lesley was abducted from Stiups Lane, Turf Hill and her body was found three days later on desolate moorland above the A672 Oldham-to-Halifax Road. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed 12 times. Local tax clerk Stefan Kiszko was wrongly convicted of her murder and served 16 years in prison. He died shortly after his release in 1992.

The 27-year-old investigation was given a boost in February after detectives revealed they had managed to get a DNA profile of the murderer for the first time. At the time, Detective Chief Superintendent Max Mclean said: "This is the biggest breakthrough in this inquiry to date. We will never have a better chance of cracking the case than we do now."

Convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett - who had been named as the prime suspect in a 1997 book - was "categorically ruled out" after it was found his DNA did not match the new genetic fingerprint. Also cleared, along with 300 other suspects, were infamous murderers Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe and child killer Robert Black.

In a bid to solve the inquiry, detectives launched a new appeal on BBC's Crimewatch earlier this year.

Now, after what they describe as a "huge and encouraging" response, the search is underway to trace all the suspects and obtain a DNA sample from them.

Detective Inspector John Barr, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "We have had more than 250 calls in total and the team has been working around the clock to sift through the information. "The response has been fantastic and it shows how people in Rochdale are still determined to bring Lesley's killer to justice. It is close to their hearts, even though it happened nearly three decades ago.

"Lesley Molseed's killer had a great deal of local knowledge and it is likely he came from the Rochdale area. He can only be described as a brutal child killer. Almost 30 years on, the ferocity of the attack still gives this crime the same impact as if it happened yesterday."

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