Karen Hales murder - Update one year on from 25th anniversary appeal | Suffolk Constabulary

You are here

Karen Hales murder - Update one year on from 25th anniversary appeal

Karen Hales

Police are continuing to appeal for information regarding the brutal murder of a young mother in Ipswich which occurred on this day in 1993, as the Senior Investigating Officer provides an update on the inquiry following the 25th anniversary appeal last year.  

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith, Head of the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, said: “Despite the passage of time we are not giving up on this investigation.

“Last year, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Karen’s murder, I conducted a number of media interviews alongside members of Karen’s family which was a very emotive day and an incredibly difficult thing for them to do. As a result of those interviews and the wider media appeal, we received 18 separate communications from members of the public and we are continuing to pursue a number of lines of enquiry as a consequence.

“This demonstrates to me that there remains the possibility that there are other people who have knowledge or information which could assist this investigation. My appeal to them is to make contact and help us solve this horrendous crime.

“In particular I want to be sure that we have established as much detail as possible about Karen’s life and personal circumstances, so would like to hear from people who knew her in whatever form, whether they were her friends, work colleagues or other acquaintances. We want to be sure we know as much about her as we possibly can, including places she was frequenting and everyone she was associating with, particularly in the days and weeks leading up to her brutal murder on 21 November 1993. Although I retain a completely open-mind as to who is responsible for killing Karen, I think there is a strong possibility that her attacker was known to her and that is why it is so important for us to know everything about her.

“Karen was just 21-years-old and the mother to an 18-month-old daughter who had to grow up never knowing her mum. Her murder was truly devastating for her entire family and if there is someone out there who can help us but is reluctant to do so, I would like them to think about a couple of things in particular that might help them to change their mind.

“Please think about that baby girl, left alone in the house where her mum had been stabbed to death and set alight and who was lucky to survive the fire. Please think about the parents who discovered their daughter’s body and rescued their granddaughter from the fire. If you think you can help, then please call us.

“Friends or relatives of the killer may have noticed a change in their behaviour around the time of the murder, but either didn’t think anything of it at the time, or had suspicions but felt obligated not to say anything, or may have been afraid to do so. If that applies to you, then please remember that it is never too late to come forward and we will treat any information we receive in the strictest confidence.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Unsolved Case Team on 01953 423819, or by emailing [email protected]

Alternatively, you can contact the charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their website: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-anonymously

You can read more about the investigation in the previous news releases below. 

    Previous release | 12 December 2018

    Officers investigating the brutal murder of a young mother at her home in Ipswich which occurred 25 years’ ago, have received over a dozen calls or messages from members of the public following an anniversary appeal.

    Karen Hales’ body was discovered at her home address in Lavenham Road by her parents at approximately 4.40pm, on Sunday 21 November 1993.

    21-year-old Karen was found in the kitchen and had received multiple stab wounds and her body had been set alight. Her 18-month-old daughter was also in the house, but was fortunately unharmed.

    A post-mortem examination concluded that the cause of death was attributed to shock and haemorrhage, secondary to multiple stab wounds.

    Last month, 25 years on from Karen’s tragic death, detectives renewed their appeal to the public in the hope that someone might come forward with vital information which could help solve this murder.                                                   

    Detective Superintendent Andy Smith, who is the senior investigating officer for this unsolved case, said: “One month on from our latest appeal into Karen’s truly shocking murder, we have received 14 separate communications from members of the public.

    “This is very encouraging as despite the passage of time there are clearly people who still remember things from 1993 that they think may be of assistance to our investigation.

    “A number of the calls have provided us with fresh information which had previously not formed part of the investigation and we are now actively pursuing those lines of enquiry.

    “We also received some information provided to us anonymously and I am very keen for those people to make contact with us in person if they feel comfortable to do so. I would like to reassure them that we will treat their identity and anything they tell us in the strictest confidence.

    “I am extremely grateful to Karen’s family for the bravery they showed in assisting us with the anniversary appeal, conducting a number of very difficult and emotional interviews with the media. I am sure their personal appeals will have played a large part in generating the number of calls we received.

    “This investigation remains open and I am determined to find Karen’s killer and bring that person to justice, above all else for the sake of her family.

    “If there is anyone out there who has any information that they believe could assist the inquiry, then please come forward without further delay – it is never too late to contact us.”

    Anyone who believes they may have information which could assist with the investigation into this murder should contact the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Crime Review Team:

    Previous release | 21 November 2018

    Today marks the 25th anniversary of the brutal murder of a young mother at her home in Ipswich, as police renew appeals for people to come forward with information.

    Karen Hales’ body was discovered at her home address in Lavenham Road by her parents at approximately 4.40pm, on Sunday 21 November 1993.

    21-year-old Karen was found in the kitchen and had received multiple stab wounds and her body had been set alight. Her 18-month-old daughter was also in the house, but was fortunately unharmed.

    A post-mortem examination concluded that the cause of death was attributed to shock and haemorrhage, secondary to multiple stab wounds.

    Suffolk Police immediately launched a murder inquiry, involving a dedicated team of around 50 officers.  They interviewed witnesses, carried-out fingertip searches, forensically examined Karen’s home and surrounding area, conducted house to house enquiries and questioned over 400 motorists in the hope that they might have seen something.

    At the time, the investigation was one of the biggest murder hunts in Suffolk’s criminal history.

    Detectives involved in the investigation followed up more than 1,400 lines of enquiry and a major publicity campaign created a vast flow of information from members of the public to the incident room.

    Karen had been living at her home address in Lavenham Road with her long term partner Peter and baby daughter Emily.

    On the day Karen was murdered, Sunday, 21 November 1993, the day started ordinarily enough. Karen and Peter had spent the day visiting family and watching the television.

    At 3pm Peter started getting ready for his afternoon shift at his place of work. Karen made him sandwiches and at 3.50pm, she and Emily waved goodbye from the window.

    Ten minutes later Peter arrived at work. Soon after, Karen’s parents Geraldine and Graham Hales came to talk to him about a problem they were having with their car. When he told them Karen was alone at home they decided to visit her.

    At 4.40pm they knocked on her door, but there was no answer. Graham let himself in and could immediately smell smoke coming from the kitchen and it was there he found his daughter.

    25 years on from Karen’s death, detectives are renewing their appeal to the public in the hope that someone will come forward with vital information which could help solve this murder.

    Detective Superintendent Andy Smith, who is now the senior investigating officer for this unsolved case, said:

    “It is hard to find the right words to appropriately reflect the utterly depraved nature of this shocking murder.

    “Karen was a 21-year-old mother when she was brutally murdered in her own home. She was stabbed multiple times and set fire to in the presence of her then 18-month-old daughter Emily. Tragically her parents discovered her body shortly after she had been murdered.

    “25 years on Karen’s murder continues to torment her family on a daily basis.

    “It is for these reasons we will not give up in our efforts to pursue the person responsible for this horrendous crime.

    “Following the initial murder inquiry, there have been a number of subsequent reviews including an ongoing focused re-investigation.

    “As part of our current investigation, we have conducted a range of enquiries. This includes revisiting a number of witnesses, reviewing hundreds of items seized during the original inquiry and investing heavily in targeted forensic examinations utilising modern scientific techniques which were previously unavailable.

    “This 25 year anniversary presents as another significant opportunity to make a renewed appeal for information which may lead us to the person responsible. In that regard I am making specific appeals for information.

    “Whilst we have interviewed numerous people who knew Karen, I want to be absolutely sure we have spoken to everyone, especially those people who had some form of interaction with her, no matter how minor, in the weeks and days leading up to her murder on Sunday 21 November 1993.

    “I would also appeal to the many people whom we have spoken to previously  to carefully reflect on what they have told us and ask them to contact us if they have anything new, or additional, they would now like to tell us, again no matter how minor or seemingly unimportant.

    “Another aspect of my appeal is to those who may know or have known the person responsible. Whilst the motive for Karen’s murder remains unclear it is likely that someone close to the killer, a relative, friend or other acquaintance may have noticed unusual behaviour either before, or after, Sunday 21 November 1993.

    “For whatever reason you may not have felt you could come forward at the time, but for the sake of Karen’s family we would ask you to please come forward now.”

    Anyone who believes they may have information which could assist with the investigation into this murder should contact the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Crime Review Team: