It is very gratifying to read that a notorious unsolved murder has finally been closed and the perpetrator put behind bars. The murder of Claire Tiltman in January 1993, was such a case. Claire had just turned sixteen when she was brutally attacked in an alleyway, close to her home, in Greenhithe, Kent. Her case ran cold for two decades, despite an extensive manhunt by Kent Police. Many potential suspects were interviewed but there was nothing to tie any man into the case. The investigation eventually ran cold, getting cold case reviews every couple of years, but all came to nothing. Until a man convicted of two violent attacks on women, made a comment to a fellow inmate about attacking a girl who had just used a pedestrian crossing. He had the information passed onto Police, who checked into the two attacks the convicted man had carried out, but there were no crossings where the attacks occurred. But it did raise the question in the case of young Claire.
This man was former milk man Colin Ash-Smith, sentenced to three life sentences for two horrific attacks on two women. The first victim was abducted, raped and Ash-Smith tried to then murder the young mother in a quarry. Then in 1995, two years after Claire`s murder, Ash-Smith stabbed 22 year old Charlotte Barnard fourteen times,but miraculously, she survived, like the first victim. Police found journals in his home detailing what he would like to do to women. Violently. He also had an extensive collection of various types of knives. He admitted to Police he liked to go out for late night walks armed with a knife, looking for victims. He was questioned about the murder of Claire but his mother provided him with an alibi, which much later turned out to be false. His father was jailed for perverting justice in 1997, after he admitted destroying a particular knife the Police wanted to examine. The mother later said that neither she, her husband or son had anything to do with the murder of Claire.
Then the information from the inmate sparked fresh interest in the murder of Claire. They already had Ash-Smith`s journals on how he planned his attacks, describing himself as "an animal" and how he hated women and "was not a doormat." He was convicted just days ago for Claire`s murder and jailed for a minimum of twenty one years. Considering his history, he should have received a whole life sentence, showing just how dangerous he is to women. The sad part of this saga, is that both of Claire`s parents died before before justice was served. Both the Tiltman and Ash-Smith families knew each other, which makes things worse. But let us look at the facts. He had a huge collection of knives. Does that not ring alarm bells? His mother lied for him about the night of the murder - Police are considering whether to prosecute her. Then his father deliberately destroying a knife so Police could not examine it, resulting in jail for him. That says much.
The murder of Claire Tiltman was long considered to have been committed by serial killer Robert Napper, by amateur sleuths, due to the extensive number of wounds inflicted, but now the truth is out and a very dangerous man is back inside. Astonishingly, he was being considered for parole, despite 3 life sentences!!!! Napper has been put in the frame for at least 8 murders by one amateur sleuth, including Penny Bell and Jean Bradley, but this is on account of the ferocity of knife wounds. There are killers, known as "commuters" by profiler David Canter, killers who travel to locate victims. Sounds unreal does n`t it. But the greater the distance between the killer and victim, the more chances he has of getting away with it. And it is very uncomfortable to acknowledge that there are freaks out there who just simply want to kill.