Harrowing New Crime Doc Will Revisit The Grisly Murder Of Schoolgirl Naomi Smith
As the storyteller, actress Katherine Kelly takes Crime+Investigation viewers on a journey to Nuneaton, where the grisly killing of the schoolgirl happened in 1995.
Naomi was just 15 when she popped out to post a letter for her mum Catherine in the evening of September 14, and never returned.
Her worried dad Brian Smith, who had gone in search of his daughter, made the horrifying discovery of her mutilated body under a slide in a nearby park.
The teenager's death rocked the Warwickshire town, as children and parents lived in fear until her killer Edwin Hopkins, then 19, was found.
Hopkins had grabbed Naomi as she walked the 100 yards to the post box at the end of her street in Bretts Hall Estate, where he cut her throat, mutilated her from the waist down and bit her breast.
For weeks police couldn't locate her killer and conducted door-to-door inquiries to find information on potential suspects, taking hundreds of statements from local residents.
Detectives were then able to draw up a profile of who they thought the offender was likely to be.
They ended up with a male individual between the ages of 15 to 28, who would've known the victim, had a history of violence of sexual offending and likely lived within a half-mile radius of the crime scene.
Her brother David Freeman says in the documentary that the town lived in fear while police were on the hunt for his sister's killer.
"The fear factor was there, yeah. I mean, for weeks, kids didn't walk around by themselves. They walked in twos or threes," he recalls.
"Everybody was looking at everybody else. It was like a murder mystery type thing that anybody over the age of 15 to 25, everybody suspected each other because that was the information that was released and people just didn't wanna know, they just stayed in the houses."
Police struggled to compile concrete evidence until they turned to the new science of DNA profiling.
Prior to 1995 detectives had been aware of DNA but now scientists were saying that they were confident in using it to identify an offender.
Saliva had been found on Naomi's body and scientists were able to analyse it to discover there was a mixed profile - that of Naomi and her killer.
Detectives then compiled a list of 800 men living within a half-mile radius of the crime scene that they wanted to DNA test, hoping that the mass test would pinpoint the culprit and produce a match.
Hopkins was on the list and gave a voluntary DNA swab. Within two weeks, scientists were unable to eliminate him from the mixed sample.
Detectives immediately suspended the investigation thanks to the match - which had odds of 36 million to 1 against Hopkins.
In his initial statement the unemployed teen, who lived nearby with his parents, claimed he had gone to the off-license at around 9.50pm and then was at home with his family.
But discrepancies in their statements failed to collaborate his whereabouts and his trip to the off-license was caught on CCTV at 9.44pm - just a couple minutes cycle from the post box Naomi was on her way to at the same time.
The bite mark on Naomi's body was also matched by forensic orthodontists to the 19-year-old, who was also known to be 'obsessed with knives'.
Detective Genaro Varriale was part of the team that worked tirelessly to uncover the killer.
He says: "I've investigated a considerable number of major crimes but in terms of brutality and savageness of that attack, I've never witnessed anything like it in the 30 years of my service."
Hopkins has always denied his guilt.
The now 43-year-old recently launched an appeal in a bid to be moved to an open prison, with the hope of moving towards an early release.
However Naomi's family and friends have said he should never be allowed to leave prison.
Murdertown continues on CRIME+INVESTIGATION on Monday 11th November at 9pm. The series is available on all catch up and on demand services.
Featured Image Credit: Crime+Investigation