Thousands asked to volunteer for DNA test in Valerie Graves murder hunt

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DNA profiling of potentially thousands of local men will be carried out in the hunt to find the killer of a grandmother.

A year on from the brutal murder of artist Valerie Graves at a house in Bosham, police say they are determined to track down her killer.

Detective Superintendant Nick May, left,  and Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Kris Ottery, who gave an update of the Valerie Graves murder one year on.

Detective Superintendant Nick May, left, and Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Kris Ottery, who gave an update of the Valerie Graves murder one year on.

The 55-year-old, of Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer at a property in Smugglers Lane on the night of December 29, 2013. She was found the next morning by her sister with multiple wounds to her face and head and a year on from her shocking murder a major operation to catch her killer is continuing.

Starting next month, police will be setting up in the Millstream Hotel, in Bosham, and encouraging men aged 17 and over to voluntarily give samples of their DNA.

Detective Superintendent Nick May, who is leading the investigation on behalf of Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said they have a limited DNA profile of the killer but it is not enough to match on the police database. They need to match it to the person.

And he believes the killer knows the area. ‘The weather on the night Valerie Graves was killed was terrible,’ said Det Supt May.

‘It was really miserable and Bosham was not quite, but almost, flooded.

‘That’s one of the reasons we think the person responsible for this crime has connections to Bosham.

‘What else would they have been doing in such an out-of-the-way location at a time like that?

‘Maybe they were visiting, working or perhaps a resident of the village?’

Det Supt May also revealed that, a year on, the family who own the house have not moved back in because of what happened there.

They are going to sell the property, which Mrs Graves and her family were looking after for the Christmas period while the owners were on holiday.

The DNA profiling will take place between 10am and 8pm from January 21 to 29, February 2 to 7 and February 10 to 15. The hotel is in Bosham Lane.

Anyone with information can ring 101 or email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk quoting Operation Ensign, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.