On the 15th of November, 2007 at 16:45, Kate Bushell (14) had gone out walking her normal route with her neighbour's dog Gemma, a Terrier. When she failed to return home, at 19:30 her father Jerry went out looking for her and discovered her body approx 300 metres away covered in blood, with the dog waiting nearby.
Kate was found nearby Exwick Lane in Exeter, Devon, and her throat had been slit with a kitchen knife.
The 2017 anniversary appeal asked the public to help identify a man seen with a blue car in a layby in Exwick Lane at the time of the murder, and another unknown man seen running frantically down a field from the direction of where Kate was found.
They revealed they had seen the presence of orange fibres from non-florescent work-wear found on Kate’s body and a country stile nearby, plus the nature of the murder weapon used, a knife with a blade around six inches long.
Detectives remain convinced that the offender has a local connection due to the location of the crime scene, an isolated rural spot mainly used as a cut-through and by local dog walkers.
As the post-mortem findings and the state of Kate's body have never been revealed, it makes it very difficult to work out a motive or put together the series of events that led up to her murder. For example, was Kate attacked from behind with no warning, or had she been dragged into the field out of the way of viewers? It's interesting to note that the route she took was her regular route when she walked the neighbour's dog, meaning that the killer may have known she would be there - or it could have been completely random.
We also don't know the state of Kate's clothes at the time - so we don't know if the murder was sexually motivated. We also don't know if any swabs were taken from the Terrior to see if it had attacked or bitten the murderer in a bid to protect Kate.
The knife used to kill Kate was a kitchen knife - suggesting that someone had either brought it especially for the murder or had been carrying it around and happened upon her. In my opinion I think Kate's killer knew she would be there - they had seen her before, possibly so often that when she saw them that day, Kate recognised them and wasn't worried.