Twenty years on from the murder of 14-year-old Kate Bushell, her family has urged anyone holding onto vital information to ‘find it within themselves’ to come forward to police.
Detectives investigating the schoolgirl's murder say that the killer could have moved anywhere in the country and are asking people nationwide to watch the appeal.
Kate was murdered as she walked a neighbour’s dog near her home in Exwick 20 years ago yesterday. She was found in a field off Exwick Lane on November 15 1997 with a brutal wound to her throat.
Last week major crime detectives launched a public appeal for information to help them catch Kate’s killer.
So far around 180 calls and messages from the UK public have been received through the police incident room and online reporting portal, almost 10 times the response to the 10th anniversary appeal.
This has generated at least 10 new lines of enquiry now being progressed by the major crime team.
Kate’s older brother Tim Bushell, 35, said the family were very grateful for the public’s help and appealed to anyone who was still withholding information to speak out.
He said: “As Kate’s family we have been informed of some new information being passed to the police amongst hundreds of calls. We are very grateful for this and it means so much to us.
“We maintain a joint view with the police that somebody must have that piece of information that will lead to the police apprehending the person who killed Kate. We hope that somebody may find it within themselves to let the police have that information.
“Today marks the 20th anniversary of the day I lost my sister in brutal circumstances. It is long overdue that the killer is brought to justice.”
Senior Investigating Officer Paul Burgan said anyone wrestling with their conscience should be brave and pick up the phone.
“The response from the public has been extremely positive – we have received around 180 messages and calls, and this continues to rise. This compares to 19 responses received during a similar appeal on the 10th anniversary in 2007. We are following a number of viable lines of enquiry as a result,” he said.
“However, we are still looking for that one call from someone who may well be wrestling with their conscience and debating whether to call the police.
“They may be having that debate due to misplaced loyalty or may think they will be treated criminally if they only come forward at this late stage. Let me be very clear, our priority is to apprehend a child murderer and clearly the overwhelming public interest issue is for us to do that.
“This is about doing the right thing and giving us the information we still need and I would just like to reassure any such individual that our primary concern is, and always has been, to apprehend Kate’s killer.”
If you have information please phone the incident room on 0800 096 1233 or report online via: www.dc.police.uk/katebushell
Information can also be passed anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers via 0800 555111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org
The charity has offered a £10,000 reward for information received through them that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the murder.