Daughter of Ipswich murder victim Karen Hales searches for answers

- BBC News

Daughter of Ipswich murder victim Karen Hales searches for answers

Emily Hales is the only witness to her mother Karen Hales unsolved murder - but she was just 18 months old and can remember nothing about it.

Now 31, and a mum herself with a young son, she is a friendly, bubbly, happy-sounding person - just like her own mum, she is told.

Karen was brutally stabbed and her body set alight on 21 November 1993. Thirty years on, Emily is still searching for answers.

Here, in her own words, she talks about the pain of not knowing her mum - or the killers identity.

I was so, so young - so little - when it happened. I was a baby.

Ive been told that I would ask for Mummy a lot. I would speak to my [maternal] nan, and I cant remember my age, but I was told I hadnt got a mum any more.

I honestly cannot remember when I was told what had actually happened to Mum, but I know I became more aware as a teenager.

My grandparents had arrived at the house soon after it happened - they saved my life. As far as Im aware, I wasnt harmed in any way, or had to go to hospital.

I really wish I could have remembered something, because I was the only one who was there. But I was just 18 months old, so I couldnt say anything to help police. I dont remember a thing.

I would love to be able to help; to remember something, to say I had seen something. I could have been the only one to maybe recognise the person. I wished I was older. If I was 10, for example, I would be able to say "the man was like this."

I have always had conversations with my nan about Mum. It was never kept from me. When I was growing up we would always mark her birthday and we still go to her grave.

I know that she had a bubbly personality. People always say what a good mum she was; that she always put me first. She used to take me swimming quite a lot. She was a loving, caring person; a very happy person.

A lot of people say I look like Mum - Ive got the same eyes and the dark hair. I remember once my nan said to me Oh, youre not like your mum in the mornings, she would be happy and singing, while I was not a morning person.

It is nice to know that Im like her in some ways. It does make me feel closer because I havent been able to feel close to her. Its so hard to explain how it feels.

Now, as a mum myself, I cannot imagine my son not having me around.

I do suffer with a bit of anxiety about that, if something happens to me. I think about it, and it brings the anxiety out in me that I havent felt before, since I had him.

It does make you see things differently, as a mum; all the time I spend with him, I didnt have that with Mum.

When I had my son, I had a tough time. He was colicky and I had times when I was holding him and thought I wish Mum was here.

When you have a baby you are totally new to it and I suppose a lot of new mums would call their mum for some help but I didnt have that.

Its not like I didnt have support, but its nice to have your mum at those times. It was tough. No-one is like your mum.

I think a lot about if Id had that [relationship] with her, what it wouldve been like. I just wished we were a normal family.

On her birthday, I think What would we have been doing? Would we have gone out for lunch and had a nice girlie day together? It does make you think what could have been.

When I think of the investigation, I feel it has been such a long time now, I feel the person is never going to be found. Its terrible.

I cant believe that that person hasnt told anybody, its so big, how could they keep it to themselves all these years? I believe someone is keeping a secret.

Sometimes Ive wondered Have I walked past them in the street? Would they recognise me? I hope that person does read this and I hope it triggers part of them that would admit to what they have done.

I hope that they [police] can find anything for my grandparents while they are still alive, because they will go and they will never know. My grandfather has got that image of walking into that.

Shop assistant Karen, who was 21, was with Emily at home in Lavenham Road, Ipswich, on 21 November 1993.

Her fiancé Peter Ruffles, Emilys father, had left for work at 15:50 GMT. There were at least two inches (5cm) of snow on the ground.

Shortly before 16:40, Karens parents, Graham and Geraldine Hales, called in at the house and entered through the unlocked front door.

They were confronted with smoke and flames and found their daughter had been stabbed and an attempt made to set her alight.

Her purse was missing, as were two Laser knives.

Suffolk Police put 50 officers on the case and spoke to hundreds of witnesses and seized more than 300 items, but, 30 years on, detectives are yet to make a breakthrough.

Det Supt Mike Brown, head of the Major Investigation Team, said it had not given up hope of catching Karens killer.

On the 25th anniversary, in 2018, officers chased up fresh information after receiving a flurry of calls and messages in response to a police appeal.

"These leads were pursued but unfortunately were not able to provide a breakthrough in the case," he added.

"We continue to believe that somebody out there knows who is responsible for Karens murder and my message to them is that it is never too late to come forward.

"Any information we receive will be treated in the strictest confidence."

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