POLICE have announced a ‘significant breakthrough’ in the investigation to find out who killed Valerie Graves in Bosham.
The 55-year-old grandmother was found dead at a house in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, on December 30, 2013.
Detectives have been so far unable to track down her murderer, but today (October 23) it was announced DNA for the suspect has been obtained.
A spokeswoman said: “Forensic scientists have obtained a limited DNA profile for the suspect, which means detectives can start requesting voluntary DNA samples to eliminate males from the investigation who live and work in the Bosham area, either permanently or as migrant workers.
“Officers will also be speaking to visitors in the area to eliminate them from the investigation.”
Detective Superintendent Nick May, of the Surrey and Sussex major crime team, said: “This is a significant breakthrough for the investigation.
“Although this profile is not suitable for a search on the national DNA database it does indicate the suspect is male. “Anyone who provides us with a DNA sample could now be eliminated from the investigation. The profiling will involve taking a swab from the mouth and fingerprints from each individual.
“We are stressing that if anyone has any concerns or suspect they may know something, they can talk to our officers or Crimestoppers anonymously. We can rule out people whose names are suggested as being responsible for the murder by comparing their DNA with the sample.
“It is important for the public to understand that we will only use the samples obtained to check against this particular crime and their DNA profile will not appear on any database. Legal safeguards are in place to ensure we do not use them for any other purpose.
“Without the public’s assistance this process would take many months to achieve.”
Miss Graves was found by her sister with serious head and facial injuries the morning after they had all gone to bed.
A hammer found nearby was identified by police as the murder weapon.
She had been staying at the property with her family while the owners were away for Christmas. She had recently moved to Bracklesham Bay.
Chief Inspector Justin Burtenshaw, district policing commander for Chichester, said: “I want to reassure the community that this is part of the ongoing investigation as well as being an opportunity to actively help the enquiry team.
“Anyone who has any concerns can speak to our neighbourhood policing officers in the area.”
A reward of up to £20,000 is now being offered jointly by Sussex Police and Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Valerie’s killer.
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting Operation Ensign or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.