Jessie Earl: Family of student murdered at Beachy Head hope cold case inquest will bring answers
Watch: ITV News Meridian's Joe Coshan reports.
The parents of an art student who was murdered in 1980 hope a fresh inquest into her death will finally bring them closure.
Jessie Earl’s body was discovered near Beachy Head in 1989, nine years after she disappeared from her bedsit.
Senior officers at Sussex Police initially told the family her disappearance was not suspicious.
However, in 2001 the force launched a cold case review that concluded the 22-year-old had been murdered.
A report was submitted to the Coroner, who considered the force’s suggestion of holding a new inquest but declined to do so.
The High Court has quashed that decision and has ruled there should be a new hearing.
This was because the original one returned an inconclusive verdict, despite the fact she was found naked and tied up with her own bra.
Her father John Earl, 93, said: “It’s very strange though, getting a decision 30 years after you wanted it. I just want to know the truth.”
Jessie’s mother, Val Earl, has been campaigning for decades for her death certificate to be changed to recognise she was unlawfully killed, but this couldn’t be achieved without a fresh inquest.
Mrs Earl, 89, added: “I hope I get my bit of paper - her death certificate - with a different result on it, that’s ultimately what I’d like to hold in my hand. They’d better hurry up or it’ll be too late for us.”
The fresh hearing has also renewed hope that her killer could still be found, despite vital evidence being lost or destroyed.
Former detective Mark Williams-Thomas helped the family to secure a new inquest. He is calling on the coroner to exhume Jessie’s body for DNA profiling, something the family welcome, to spark new lines of inquiry.
"I firmly believe that had that bra been kept, and it would've been kept had the police ruled this a murder in 1989, the killer would've been caught.
"We are asking the coroner to allow us to exhume Jessie's body. The reason for doing that is that Jessie's DNA does not sit on the national database and by putting it onto the National database, we potentially could link her to not just other offender but potentially items and trophies that've been kept by killers."
As part of the inquest, Peter Tobin, a serial killer who murdered three young women, could be called to give evidence.
The family also want to see David Fuller investigated too, the man responsible for the bedsit murders in 1987. Both of them were living nearby when she went missing.
Kent Police said: “At this stage there is no evidence to connect Fuller to any other murder victims, but the investigation remains ongoing."
Sussex Police said: “No further lines of enquiry have been identified and there are no other developments. We have no evidence implicating any named individual in the murder of Jessie Earl.
“We understand the continuing anguish of Jessie’s family in not knowing what happened to their loved one, and our thoughts remain with them. We will never close this case until and unless some resolution and closure is found for them.”
Val added: “We’ve been saying this for 10 years at least - anything about the investigation - we’ll never know. But there’s a chance now we might.”