Police have secured a significant breakthrough in their cold case murder investigation into the killing of a Norfolk woman 20 years ago.

Officers have identified new DNA profiles which they hope can help finally identify the killer of mother-of-three Michelle Bettles.

The 22-year-old was last seen on CCTV footage walking along St Benedict’s Street in Norwich at 8.20pm on March 28, 2002.


Her body was found by a dog walker on Podmore Lane at Scarning, near Dereham, three days later on Easter Sunday. She had been strangled.

A forensic review into the killing, launched in March to coincide with the 20th anniversary of her murder, has now identified several DNA profiles, including a complete male DNA profile.

Detectives are now investigating the identity of the man.

Forensic work is also ongoing to examine if the other DNA samples found on Michelle’s clothing can provide complete DNA profile of others who were in her company in the days and hours leading up to her murder.

Major crime review manager Andy Guy, of Norfolk Police, said: “There have been multiple advances in forensic science over recent years which have significantly advanced this investigation, so I ask anybody who knows what happened to Michelle or has suspicions regarding who may be responsible to do the right thing and contact us.

“I would also urge any man who had legitimate, personal contact with Michelle to come forward and be eliminated from the enquiry, before we contact you.”

Michelle, who operated as a sex worker, was last seen in the red-light district of Norwich.

Unusually she had not kept an appointment with a regular client whom she had arranged to meet close to her home address in the Dereham Road area.

CCTV footage suggested she never intended to keep the appointment.

Her body was found by a local resident in woodland by the side of a country track known as Rush Meadow Road in Scarning. It was Easter Weekend of 2002 – the same weekend the Queen Mother died.

A murder investigation was launched at the time, but her killer has never been identified.

In March her parents John Bettles and Denise Taylor made a fresh appeal for information that might assist the investigation and to bring her killer to justice and finally bring closure to the family, including her now grown up children.

The couple, who were reunited 12 years ago after a meeting at their daughter's graveside on what would have been her 30th birthday, said they believed people still had information that could lead to her murderer.

Mr Bettles said: “If you were in contact with Michelle anywhere near the time of her disappearance then chances are if you’ve left your DNA it is going to be there and they will find it.”

Her mother added: “I’m hoping and praying that the person who did this will worry because DNA has moved forward and now there is every chance they will get their comeuppance.”

Following the appeal, detectives received eight calls from members of the public offering suggestions of names as possible friends or contacts of Michelle.

Callers also reported a potential sighting of her in the City Road area of Norwich on the evening of March 28.

These lines of inquiry are still being investigated.

News of the DNA breakthrough comes after a nationwide fresh appeal for information was made by Mr Guy on the BBC programme Crimewatch Live on Wednesday (October 12).

• Police are asking anyone with information to contact the Major Crime Review Team on 01953 423819 or email unsolvedcasereviews@norfolk.police.uk

• Alternatively, you can access the public portal via the website (mipp.police.uk) or can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.