TODAY marks the second anniversary of the brutal murder of Valerie Graves.
The 55-year-old grandmother was house-sitting in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, when she was savagely killed in her bed just days after celebrating her birthday with family on Christmas Day.
Despite one of the largest investigations Sussex Police has ever carried out and a number of high profile family appeals, Valerie’s killer remains at large.
A £10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the conviction of the murderer.
Sussex police launched the biggest voluntary mass DNA screening in its history in January and February this year – asking all men aged over 17 who live, work or visit Bosham to provide a DNA sample and a thumbprint to eliminate them from the inquiry.
This was after forensic scientists obtained a limited DNA profile for the murder suspect, which although not suitable for a search on the National DNA Database, indicated the suspect was male.
Detective Chief Inspector Jason Taylor called on any male who had not yet given a sample to come forward in order to be eliminated from the inquiry.
He said: ‘This investigation remains a priority for the force and we are determined to find Valerie’s killer and get justice for her and her family.
‘This time of year is particularly difficult for her family and friends. We are asking for people’s understanding as we continue to knock on doors in Bosham and ask for DNA samples.
‘I would ask any men aged over 17 who live, work or visit Bosham who haven’t provided a DNA sample to contact police so we can arrange for this to be taken and for them to be eliminated.
This investigation remains a priority for the force and we are determined to find Valerie’s killer and get justice for her and her familyDetective Chief Inspector Jason Taylor
‘We are still offering a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Valerie’s killer and I would ask anyone who has information to contact police.’
On the second anniversary of her murder, police have reiterated their determination to catch the culprit.
They have a limited DNA profile of the killer from the claw-hammer used in the attack, and having taken samples from 2,500 men with a connection to the village.
They want to eliminate another 2,500 from their inquiries.
Ms Graves was murdered as she house-sat with her sister Jan, mother Eileen, and her sister’s partner, Nigel Acres.
She had recently moved back to Sussex from Scotland to help care for her elderly mother in Bracklesham Bay.
Last year, Ms Graves’ two grown-up children, Tim Wood and Jemima Harrison, described how Christmas was “on hold” while their mother’s murderer remained at large.
Mr Wood said: ‘It’s hard to carry on knowing that someone is out there able to do it to someone else and knowing that they haven’t been caught for what they have done.’
Anyone with information about the murder is asked to call 101 and quote Operation Ensign.
Alternatively, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.