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Second suspect arrested in slaying of prostitutes

British police refuse to identify the two men, neither of whom has been formally charged. Media restraint is urged.

December 20, 2006|Janet Stobart | Times Staff Writer

LONDON — British police on Tuesday announced the arrest of a second suspect in the slayings of five women who worked as prostitutes in eastern England.

Det. Chief Supt. Stewart Gull of the Suffolk County police said a 48-year-old man was taken into custody at his home in the town of Ipswich.

"He has been arrested on suspicion of murdering all five women: Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls," Gull said.

The suspect was not identified by police, who also refused to release the name of the first suspect detained Monday. Neither man has been formally charged.

Police requested permission from the courts Tuesday to hold the first suspect for an additional 36 hours while the investigation continued.

Police officials asked the British media to refrain from naming people involved in the investigation. Despite the plea, the media identified the second suspect as Stephen Wright.

Newspapers and television this week identified the first suspect as Tom Stephens, a supermarket worker and part-time taxi driver.

Stephens gave interviews to the BBC and the Sunday Mirror newspaper acknowledging that he knew all five victims, that he had been a habitual client of prostitutes in Ipswich and that he was a possible suspect who matched the police profile of the killer.

"I know I am innocent. But I don't have alibis for some of the time," Stephens said.

On Tuesday, police cordoned off an area of London Road near the red-light district of downtown Ipswich.

Neighbors reported seeing a man being escorted out of a house about 5 a.m., and news footage of police activity there and at Stephens' home in the nearby village of Trimley St. Martin was shown on television throughout the day.

A neighbor of the man whom authorities led away from the London Road home told the Times of London that police had handed out questionnaires to residents seeking personal details, including their whereabouts at the time the women disappeared.

Another neighbor, identified by the Times of London as Joe Franey, 50, said police arrived at the London Road home early Tuesday and "there was just a hammering and banging on the front door."

The suspect "seemed quite composed.... He was just led across to the police car and led away," Franey said.

The naked bodies of the five victims, ages 19 to 29, were found in the countryside around Ipswich. They all reportedly worked as prostitutes in the red-light district and were drug users.

Their bodies were discovered over a 10-day period starting Dec. 2, touching off fears of a killing spree that might claim further victims.

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