Norfolk Police find DNA in connection to murder of sex worker Michelle Bettles in Norwich in 2002

  • ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray spoke to Michelle Bettles' parents, 20 years on

Detectives investigating the 20-year-old murder of a woman say they have found DNA that could help solve the case, thanks to advances in technology.

New techniques have allowed Norfolk Police to carry out a forensic review into the death of Michelle Bettles from Norwich, who was working as a sex worker at the time.

Ms Bettles was 22 and a mother of three when she was last seen in the red-light district of Norwich on the evening of Thursday 28 March 2002. Her body was found three days later by a dog walker in the village of Scarning, near Dereham.

A murder investigation was launched at the time but her killer has never been identified.

Police have now issued a fresh appeal to speak to people who knew her, so that they can rule their DNA out in their attempts to identify a suspect.

Andy Guy, the force's major crime review manager, said: “It is 20 years since the murder of Michelle and I do believe the public have vital information which can help us solve our investigation and give her family some closure.

“As part of a forensic review, we currently have items at the laboratory and seek to identify DNA profiles found in connection with Michelle.

"This has not been possible before, so I would ask if any person has had legitimate, personal contact with Michelle to come forward and be eliminated."

Three years ago, Ms Bettles' parents made an appeal after a notebook belonging to her former partner was discovered and passed to police, who wanted to trace some of the people named within it.

Mr Guy also appealed to hear from anyone with useful information about the last few days of Ms Bettles' life.

Search teams looking for clues during the original investigation in Michelle Bettles' murder. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Police hope people may now have the confidence to provide them with new information as time has passed and situations may have changed.

Ms Bettles had not kept an appointment with a regular client, whom she had arranged to meet close to her home in the Dereham Road area of Norwich.

CCTV footage from the evening showed her walking along St Benedict’s Street towards the city centre at 8.20pm that evening, suggesting she never intended to keep the appointment with the regular client as she was heading in the opposite direction.

The review of Ms Bettles' murder is also looking at a potential sighting of her in the City Road area, walking towards Queens Road just after 10.30pm, on the evening she was last seen.

There were further, unconfirmed, sightings of her around the Rouen Road and Ber Street area.

In an attempt to jog people's memories, police have reminded them that Ms Bettles was murdered during the Easter weekend of 2002 - it was the same weekend the Queen Mother died and Unchained Melody by Gareth Gates was number one in the charts, they said.