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Vigilante warning to sex offenders

7-4-2003 Editorial in The Scotsman:
SEX offenders living close to where Jodi Jones was murdered have been warned by police they may be the target of vigilante attacks while the schoolgirl’s killer remains at large.

Officers are known to have contacted relatives of at least one suspected offender in Midlothian to advise them on security as the hunt for the murderer enters its fourth day.

Forensic tests on Jodi’s clothing, which detectives hope will yield a DNA profile of the killer, will not be completed until next week and police have admitted they have no firm leads among the 350 calls received from the public.

Although police say they are "extremely confident" of catching the killer, there are fears that elements of the local community may grow impatient at the pace of progress in the investigation.

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police insisted the murder squad was not issuing a warning to all known sex offenders in the area but said it was possible officers had taken that step in individual cases.

Five years ago, police made a number of arrests when a mob of 300 gathered outside the home of a suspected paedophile in Dalkeith and threw stones at the windows.

Jodi, 14, was stabbed to death in what has been described as a "frenzied" attack while walking to meet her boyfriend on the outskirts of the town on Monday evening.

Her mutilated body was discovered by members of her own family on a secluded woodland path known as Roman Dyke, just 200 yards from her home in Easthouses, a mile outside Dalkeith.

Detective Inspector Tom Martin, a senior officer involved in the investigation, said laboratory tests were being conducted on Jodi’s distinctive dark blue baggy hooded sweat top and dark trousers.

"We have now recovered Jodi’s clothing from the scene of the murder and it is being submitted for forensic examination at a laboratory," DI Martin said.

"It is believed that Jodi struggled with her attacker and it is hoped that any contact between the two may be identified by our forensic scientists."

DI Martin added: "We have had a tremendous response from the public and have received over 350 telephone calls. However, we have no confirmed sightings of Jodi after she left her home around 5pm on Monday. We are appealing again to anyone who saw Jodi or a girl fitting her description to contact the police."

DI Martin said laboratory tests usually take up to three weeks to complete but in this case the results were expected within a week.

If a DNA profile of Jodi’s killer is obtained, detectives would be able to test men in the local area to eliminate them from their enquiries.

Ian Stephen, a forensic psychologist who advised the producers of the ITV show Cracker, said the police were likely to be working on the theory that Jodi was killed by someone who knew her and lived locally.

Mr Stephen said: "In these cases it’s very unusual for the killer and victim not to know each other. Whoever it is, this is someone full of anger."

Education officials have produced 10,000 leaflets to hand out to schoolchildren in Midlothian, warning them to be vigilant while the killer remains at large. In most schools in the area, pupils began their six-week summer holiday yesterday afternoon.

Many of Jodi’s classmates at St David’s RC High School began the holidays by visiting the end of the lane where she met her death to lay floral tributes to the murdered teenager. ..more.. by PAUL GALLAGHER

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