Womenz Magazine

Young mum, 22, ‘murdered in same way’ as friend after ‘claiming she knew killer’

A young mum claimed she knew the killer of a friend who had been strangled – before she was murdered in the same way, a source has said.

Janine Downes, 22, was sexually assaulted, strangled and dumped by a road months after fellow sex worker Gail Whitehouse, 23, was found strangled.

The close friends had both been touting for business when they were last seen alive and police are investigating the possibility that Janine knew her killer.

A source said: “Janine told me that she knew who killed Gail and then she was murdered. I suppose we will never know now.”

The source said Janine did not name the suspect or give any further details.

Police are “open-minded” about the possibility they were murdered by the same man but the cases are not being formally linked “at this time”.

Janine’s 5ft, 8st body was found in a hedge on a lay-by on the A464 near Shifnal, Shrops, at 9.30am on Saturday, February 2, 1991.

She had been battered around the head and strangled.

A witness had reported seeing a brown skip-style lorry there at 8.30am.

She was last seen the previous night working in Wolverhampton and detectives suspected she had been killed by a client.

Police will today issue an appeal for information about her killer on the 30th anniversary of her death.

Detective Inspector Lee Holehouse, of West Mercia Police’s Major Investigation Unit, said: “Despite a continuous and full investigation and several arrests, nobody has been charged with her murder and I desperately want to change that.”

Her murder shares hallmarks of double killer Christopher Halliwell, 56, who targeted frail young women who worked city streets.

He dumped his victims’ bodies in rural locations and took their clothing as trophies.

Janine’s trainers, blue jeans and shellsuit were never found.

Gail, a mum of two, was found in bushes in Wolverhampton in September 1990, having been beaten and strangled. She was last seen getting into a lorry.

At the time of both murders Halliwell worked as a dumper truck driver.

Halliwell is serving life for the murders of Sian O’Callaghan, 22, in 2011 and Becky Godden, 20, in Swindon in 2003.

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