Dutch and British police join forces in bid to solve 2 grisly body-in-bag slayings

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dutch, British police link 2 grisly slayings

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch and British police have joined forces to revive two old unsolved cases in which the bodies of women were found in canals, stuffed in bags with their heads and hands hacked off, a prosecutor’s office spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Jeichien de Graaff said the first victim was Melissa Halstead, 33, from Dayton, Ohio.

The photographer’s body was found in 1990 in Rotterdam’s Westersingel and originally buried in a nameless grave before it was finally identified in 2008 using new DNA techniques. Her remains have since been returned home, De Graaff said.

Halstead had been living in Amsterdam at the time of her death, but earlier had lived in London.

The second victim was Paula Fields, a 31-year-old British mother of three, found in 2001 by children fishing in the Regent’s Canal in London.

“Melissa also lived in London, their heads and hands were missing, there are other similarities and that is why there is a joint investigation team formed,” De Graaff said. “We assume that these two women were killed by the same person.”

De Graaff would not reveal how they had been killed.

Dutch prosecutors and police appealed on national television Tuesday night for information that could help crack the cases.

Their British counterparts made a similar appeal Monday night on the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Crimewatch show.

Crimewatch said both women were in their early 30s when they were killed, both had lived in London and were reported to have been in violent relationships and become addicted to drugs.

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