| Police divers search for clues in Belstead brook, near Ipswich, England, on Tuesday. (AP)
Ipswich (England), Dec. 13 (AP): The naked bodies of five prostitutes found in streams and woodland in the past 10 days. Police vans camped out overnight in the local red-light district. Sex workers terrified they’ll be next — but a few walking the streets nonetheless.
This provincial port town in eastern England has been gripped by fear following a dramatic killing spree that rivalled the so-called Yorkshire Ripper, one of Britain’s worst serial killers who spent five years killing 13 women in the 1970s.
Town authorities have organised shuttle services to get women home from the local council offices, and the council’s monthly newsletter was publishing a safety message to the town’s women: “Stick Together” — advising them not to walk outside alone at night.
“It’s all we can think about,” said Malcolm Moses, a taxi driver who used to drive prostitutes in the 1970s from the town’s red light district to sailors in the port. “It doesn’t matter to us if they’re prostitutes. It’s still somebody’s daughter, somebody’s sister, somebody’s mother.”
The victims included a trainee beautician, a mother of three daughters and an insurance worker. Some fell into prostitution to feed drug habits.
One of the victims, 24-year-old Paula Clennell, was interviewed on television last week saying she was scared but determined to get back on the street because she needed money for heroin. Days later she vanished.
“It’s terrifying, people are scared. Even I have to say I felt ill at ease,” said Liz Harfant, 63, leader of the Ipswich borough council.
Ipswich used to be a bustling port town in the 19th century. There were nearly 40 brothels in the red light district at the time, but these days the prostitutes ply their trade on a quiet ring road lined by red-brick houses in the shadow of the local soccer stadium.