KILLER STRUCK AS DISCO GIRL WALKED HOME; A Year Ago, the Naked Body of a Popular Teenager Was Found in a West Country Quarry. MURRAY DAVIES Reports on the Tragic Case of Louise Smith, Who Took the Fateful Decision to Walk Home Alone from a Christmas Disco
Davies, Murray, The People (London, England)
By 10 o'clock on Christmas morning in 1995, Robert Smith and his wife Gillian were becoming worried about their daughter Louise. The previous night the pretty 18-year-old secretary had gone to a local nightclub with friends. Robert had waited up but had finally gone to bed believing Louise was staying at a girlfriend's home.
By midday, her parents had phoned all Louise's friends and drawn a blank. Finally, they called the police.
The Christmas the family had planned and looked forward to crumbled into a nightmare.
Detectives quickly learned that Louise came from a close and loving home. She and three friends enjoyed Christmas Eve in The Swan pub in Yate, near Bristol. At around 11pm they went on to nearby Spirals nightclub.
The disco was packed with more than 2,000 celebrating youngsters. Bubbly Louise did not have a regular boyfriend but she was popular and spent the next three hours dancing and chatting to friends. Her brother Richard, 20, was also there.
Louise, 5ft 6in tall and very slim with fair, almost ginger, curly shoulder- length hair, was dressed in a short, black satin dress with shoestring straps, a white blouse and a black-and-green check jacket.
When the disco closed, a security camera captured her leaving at 2.03am.
One of her friends had already gone home feeling ill. But the remaining three girls strolled to a takeaway burger van parked next to The Swan then returned to the club car park where they hailed a taxi.
But at the last minute Louise decided she would walk the three-quarters of a mile to her home in Chipping Sodbury.
It was a cold, misty night but Louise had walked home from the disco in the past. The roads were well-lit, there were still many revellers on the streets and she knew she would be walking through a built-up area.
Louise was last seen alive at 2.15am on that Christmas Day, setting off down Kennedy Way, Yate, on her way home.
It was the start of a seven-week ordeal for her family which was to end on February 17, when two boys playing in the huge Barn Hill quarry found Louise's naked body.
She was lying on her back, partly hidden by undergrowth, on a small shelf 15ft beneath the edge of the quarry.
Her handbag was lying nearby but her clothes and jewellery were missing.
In the club she had worn a cubic zirconium pendant on an 18-inch gold chain, another 18-inch gold chain interwoven with three gold rings, earrings and a ring with three zirconium stones in a gold band.
Detectives believe the killer must have lived or worked nearby to know of the ledge. They also think he must have chosen the site beforehand.
The location is dangerous, with loose scree and rubble above a 180ft drop and it would be impossible to find such a hiding place accidentally in the dead of night.
Evidence suggests that Louise's body was dumped in the quarry - one-and- a-half miles from her home - the same night she vanished.
The murder hunt is the biggest Avon and Somerset police have ever conducted. Following one forensic discovery, police took DNA samples from 4,000 people in the area.
They also compared the sample with the expanding national DNA database but to no avail. So far, 13,300 people have been interviewed; 6,700 vehicles checked and eliminated; 10,500 house-to-house inquiries made; and 7,700 separate lines of inquiry followed up. Some are still active.
Detectives received 1,800 messages from members of the public. Thirty officers are still working full-time on the case and new information is still coming in.
Police called in criminal psychiatrists to compile a profile of the killer. They paint a picture of a good socialiser; a chatty, friendly, outgoing person but temperamental and subject to mood swings.
He is dominant and manipulative, liking to have the upper hand in situations and relationships. …