Nationwide manhunt after murders in Middlesbrough and Whitby are linked (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Nationwide manhunt after murders in Middlesbrough and Whitby are linked
A NATIONWIDE manhunt was under way last night for a 35-year-old man wanted in connection with the murders of a Teesside pensioner and a 50-year-old Whitby woman.
Detectives warned the public not to approach shavenheaded James Allen, right, after linking the murders of 81-year-old Colin Dunford, in Middlesbrough, and Julie Davison, in Whitby.
Mr Dunford was found dead at his home in Leven Street, Middlesbrough, at 10.50pm on Monday. He had died from head injuries in a horrific attack.
Two days later, the body of Ms Davison, 50, was discovered at a flat in Church Square, Whitby.
Detectives, who are concentrating the search on Teesside and Whitby, said although the killings were 30 miles apart, they were linking them as both victims died of head injuries in their own homes.
They believe neither victim knew their attacker and last night appealed for the public’s help before the killer strikes again.
Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Lang, head of crime operations at Cleveland Police, said: “We now believe the Middlesbrough murder is linked to the murder that took place in Whitby – two brutal murders in the victims’ own homes.
“Anyone who can carry out such callous acts needs to be caught as a matter of urgency.”
More than 100 police officers in Cleveland and North Yorkshire were last night searching for James Allen who is 5ft 7in and bald, with tattoos on both arms.
Det Chief Supt Lang warned: “Anyone who sees him, or who knows where he is, (should) contact 999 immediately.
We have over 100 officers on this working round the clock. That is a demonstration of our determination.
We will not rest until we have James Allen in custody.”
Allen, who is originally from Cumbria, but has lived in the Middlesbrough area for some time, is known to the police.
The Northern Echo understands that he is also wanted in connection with a number of other serious crimes committed earlier this week.
A spokeswoman declined to be drawn on the nature of the crimes, but confirmed: “We are looking at Allen’s potential involvement in a number of other offences, but the focus right now is on catching him.”
Police forensics teams are still examining both crime scenes. They do not know if a weapon was used or if anything was taken from either home.
Mr Dunford, the first victim, was last seen at 5pm on Sunday. When he did not visit the Samuelson’s Workingmen’s Club, near his Middlesbrough home, for two consecutive nights, club barman Andy Mallett raised the alarm.
Mr Mallett said Mr Dunford stopped by the club every day and drank two-and-a-half pints.
Police broke into Mr Dunford’s home, in Leven Street, and found his bloodstained body lying in the front room at 10.50pm on Monday.
Neighbours said Mr Dunford was not married and had no children. Friends said that he was well-liked and described him as a true gentleman.
On Wednesday, Ms Davison’s body was found in her flat in Church Square, close to the town’s Royal Crescent and famous Pavillion Theatre.
The grisly discovery was made by her sister, who raised the alarm.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Chief Inspector Kerrin Smith said officers were examining whether there had been a break-in at the groundfloor flat where Ms Davison lived alone.
Chief Insp Smith said: “It’s very puzzling. We know very little about Julie and are trying to build up a picture of her. We have no idea what the motive is.”
Ms Davison returned to her home town of Whitby about a year ago after living in Lancashire.
Her adult son also lives in the North Yorkshire resort.
Chief Insp Smith appealed for a man who was seen with a dark mountain bike on the square outside the flats and West Cliff Primary School at about 6.30am on Wednesday to come forward.
He was white, between 5ft 9in and 6ft and in his late 20s to 40s. He was slim and unkempt and was wearing a baseball cap.
Anyone with information is asked to call Cleveland Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.