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Justice for Melanie Road - 31 years of searching for the truth

“I always knew we would catch him. I didn’t know how or when, but I just knew.”

That was the sentiment of DCI Julie MacKay who has led the investigation into the murder of Bath teenager Melanie Road since 2009.

Melanie Road

Melanie was 17 when she was stabbed to death following a night out with friends in Bath on 8 June 1984. Her body was found in St Stephen's Court, Lansdown, by a milkman and his son the following morning.

Samples secured at the time were preserved and as forensic science evolved so did the development of the DNA profile.

The net closed with every new advance in DNA and this, coupled with the dedication of the police team investigating, led to the arrest of Christopher John Hampton – a 63-year-old painter and decorator from Bristol.

Now, almost 32 years after the brutal murder, Hampton has finally admitted he murdered Melanie.

The affect of Melanie’s murder is still felt everyday by her 81-year-old mother Jean.

Detective Chief Inspector MacKay started working on the case on the 25th anniversary of Melanie’s murder.

She said: “Firstly, I want to pay tribute to Melanie’s family who have been searching for the truth since 1984.

“They’ve conducted themselves with the utmost dignity and composure. Their faith in us to find the person who murdered Melanie has certainly given us the extra drive to keep going.

“The key to solving this case has been a combination of traditional police enquiries, advances in forensic science and the tenacity of a small group of officers and police staff. They have been supported by the wider constabulary and our forensic providers, originally the Forensic Science Service and latterly Cellmark.

“Although Hampton has now admitted to murdering Melanie, he has spent more than 30 years living a lie, able to conceal his dark secret from all those around him.

“The breakthrough for us in this case was a re-run of familial DNA profiling in 2015. This process matches DNA recovered from Melanie’s clothing with DNA profiles on the national database and this can indicate whether there’s the possibility of a match with that person, their parents, siblings or children.

DCI Julie MacKay and Crime Investigator Gary Mason discuss the case with the media.

What is familial DNA?

Once we have obtained a sample of DNA, we are able to run tests to see if any person on the National DNA Database matches this. We are also able to run tests to see if anyone on the database is a familial match, meaning they could be related to the sample DNA either through their parents, children or siblings.

“Aside from the devastating impact this has had on Melanie’s friends and family, the after effects of this case have been felt by many in the Bath community. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them and everyone who has assisted in our investigation since the mid-1980s.

"Without the hard work of the police officers in 1984 and the support of the public from then until today, the progress we have achieved would not have been possible.

“I hope this case sends out a strong message that it doesn’t matter how long ago an offence took place, we will never give up on trying to find those responsible and bringing them to justice.”

You can learn more about our Major Crime Review Team here.

The events of June 8 & 9 1984

On Friday June 8 1984, Melanie went out for the evening with her boyfriend and other friends to Beau Nash, a local nightclub in Kingston Parade.

Melanie left that venue at 1.30am on Saturday June 9, and was last seen alive by her friends a short time later in Broad Street.

She decided to walk home alone, a journey that should have taken between 15 and 20 minutes.

Melanie’s body was discovered at 5.30am that morning by a milkman and his son, close to a block of garages in St Stephens Court, Lansdown, a short distance from her home.

Investigative Timeline:

June 9 1984: Melanie’s body is found on St Stephens Court, Lansdown.

1984-1989: Five year media campaign continued to appeal for information regarding her murder.

1995: A DNA review was conducted.

2000: New review was conducted looking at familial DNA matches and profiles.

2009: On the 25th anniversary, a renewed media appeal was issued and featured on BBC Crimewatch.

2012: Case was handed over to the Brunel Major Crime Team. They carried out a DNA swabbing process to eliminate potential suspects.

2015: The familial DNA testing was re-run and a match was found. Christopher Hampton was arrested and charged with Melanie’s murder.

Investigation Statistics:

Number of arrests made in the case: 95 (including Hampton)

Number of documents linked to the case: 25,744

Number of people who had their DNA swabbed: 2,555 (1080 were voluntary)

Number of calls from members of the public: 1,410

Number of investigative actions/enquiries: 7,723