Suffolk Strangler Steve Wright was linked to 1999 schoolgirl murder 22 YEARS ago but never quizzed by cops
SUFFOLK Strangler Steve Wright was linked to the death of schoolgirl Vicky Hall nearly 22 years before being arrested this week on suspicion of her murder.
The 63-year-old, who is serving a whole life sentence for the murder of five prostitutes, was living just half a mile away from Vicky, 17, when she was strangled – but was never quizzed over her death.
He is said to have been one of 12,000 people featured on a database drawn up by detectives after his car registration number provided a partial match for a vehicle which followed a girl the night before Vicky disappeared.
Victoria Hall was last seen on September 19, 1999, after a night out with pals at a nightclub in Felixstowe, Suffolk.
But the teen never returned home with her body discovered five days later in a water-filled ditch 25 miles away near Stowmarket.
None of her clothes or possessions have ever been found.
Retired detective sergeant Chris Cushnahan of Suffolk Police revealed in an interview with the Ipswich Star newspaper in 2009 that Wright had come to the attention of detectives at the time of her murder.
He said: “Steve Wright is on the Victoria Hall database. We had many lines of inquiry, changing by the week.
"One of the early lines was trying to trace a vehicle that followed a young woman the night before Victoria went missing.”
The newspaper reported how a partial registration for the car was given to police.
All the vehicles in the area which contained the partial registration were located through the police national computer.
Wright's was one of them, but he was never questioned.
Mr Cushnahan added: “There was no reason to see him. At the time there were thousands of lines of inquiry. There was no evidence to suggest we should have followed it up.
“The database contained well over 12,000 names and it still remains the biggest inquiry Suffolk police has every conducted. It still surpasses the Steve Wright murders.
There was no reason to see him. At the time there were thousands of lines of inquiry. There was no evidence to suggest we should have followed it up.
“It was a very, very thorough investigation, but with limited evidence to work with it was always going to be very, very difficult.
“No matter what angle we explored we had little in the way of good, hard evidence. We had no scene witnesses and very, very little forensic evidence.”
Mr Cushnahan said many of the officers on the inquiry had been affected deeply by Miss Hall’s murder.
“The inquiry team gave their all – they absolutely gave their all to bring about a result," he said.
“We were very, very disappointed that we were not able to bring the inquiry to a conclusion.
“You are even more devastated when someone has not been brought to justice for the murder.”
Former forklift driver Wright who once worked as a steward on the QE2 was arrested on suspicion of Vicky’s murder on Wednesday at Long Lartin prison, Worcestershire.
He was quizzed by Suffolk detectives before being released under investigation on Thursday and returned to prison.
In 2008 he was convicted of the murders of five sex workers in the Ipswich area which took place between October 30 and December 10 2006.
He admitted having sex with the women but denied murdering them.
He was found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court of all five murders on 21 February 2008, and was sentenced the following day to life imprisonment.
It was recommended that he should never be released.
Wright has never previously been arrested in connection with Victoria's case.
Schoolgirl Victoria, who was studying for her A-levels at Orwell High School, Felixstowe, had not been sexually assaulted.
In November 2001, a businessman was cleared of her murder after a two-week trial at Norwich Crown Court.
A fresh probe was launched in 2019 after new evidence came to light.
Victoria was walking home from the Bandbox nightclub with best friend Gemma Algar in the early hours of the morning when she vanished.
The pair had stopped at a takeaway before saying goodbye at 2.30am just 300 yards from Victoria's home.
Gemma later heard screams but believed someone was messing around.
Her parents woke up the next morning and realised Victoria had not come home – and alerted the police.
Tragically Victoria's body was discovered on September 24.
22 YEARS LATER
Unseen CCTV was released as part of the new murder probe as Victoria enjoyed her night out with Gemma.
Speaking in 2019, Victoria's dad Graham said: "They are sifting through those calls but it's a painstaking thing.
"It gives us hope. Don't forget it's 20 years, it's a long while, but there's hope still."
Cops are continuing to ask anyone with information about Victoria’s death to contact the Major Investigation Team on 0800 092 0410 or 0207 158 0124 or through the portal here.
Last year Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said: "We still believe there are people out there who will know something very significant about this case, but have still as yet not told us.
"It is never too late to come forward and we are ready to take their call.
"We know allegiances can change over the years and someone who may have been compelled to keep a secret to protect another person may no longer feel the same obligation.
"Any information we are given will be treated with the utmost confidence.
"Please help us to solve this shocking crime and provide Victoria's family the answers they deserve."
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