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24 October 2014, 06:36
Detectives investigating the murder of grandmother Valerie Graves in Bosham believe they have made a breakthrough in the case.
Artist Valerie Graves was found with significant head and facial injuries at a house in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, West Sussex, on December 30, where she was staying with her family while the owners were away.
Detectives believe the 55-year-old was attacked in her bed during the night by an intruder using a hammer. She died as a result of severe head injuries.
Ms Graves had moved back to Sussex from Scotland to help care for her elderly mother in Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex.
Now a limited DNA profile for the suspect has been obtained by forensic scientists which means detectives can start requesting voluntary DNA samples to eliminate males from the investigation.
Officers will be targeting men who live and work in the Bosham area, either permanently or as migrant workers, and also be speaking to visitors in the area to eliminate them from the investigation.
Detective Superintendent Nick May, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team said: "This is a significant breakthrough for the investigation. Although this profile is not suitable for a search on the National DNA Database it does indicate the suspect is male. Anyone who provides us with a DNA sample could now be eliminated from the investigation. The profiling will involve taking a swab from the mouth and fingerprints from each individual.
"We are stressing that if anyone has any concerns or suspect they may know something, they can talk to our officers or Crimestoppers anonymously. We can rule out people whose names are suggested as being responsible for the murder by comparing their DNA with the sample.
"It is important for the public to understand that we will only use the samples obtained to check against this particular crime and their DNA profile will not appear on any database. Legal safeguards are in place to ensure we do not use them for any other purpose.
"Without the public's assistance this process would take many months to achieve."
A reward of up to £20,000 is now being offered jointly by Sussex Police and Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Valerie's killer.
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or email email@example.com quoting Operation Ensign or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.