Officers from Kent Police will join friends and family of Claire Tiltman at a candle lit walk and memorial service, 20 years after her murder.
Chief Superintendent Neil Jerome was a Constable on patrol in Stone when Claire was murdered. Now Divisional Commander for the area he will join friends and family at the walk and service on 18 January.
Today (Monday, 14 January) would have been Claire’s 36th birthday. She was just 16 years old when she was stabbed in an alleyway just off the busy A226 London Road in Greenhithe on 18 January 1993. She had been on her way to visit a friend when she was attacked at between 6pm and 6.30pm - a time when many road and rail commuters were returning home from work.
Sadly, Claire’s mother, Lin Tiltman, died aged 56 in 2008 and her father Cliff Tiltman died on 14 September last year. Claire was an only child.
Kent Police has been actively investigating the murder ever since, and the hunt to find and bring to justice Claire’s killer is being led by cold case detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.
Chief Superintendent Jerome recalls the night. He said: “I remember getting the initial call and being told it was an accident that had happened.
“Obviously when we arrived at the scene things quickly changed to a serious assault.
“There was very little to go on in the early stages, I was tasked to look around the neighbourhood to see if there was anyone around, anyone covered in blood, any witnesses, but there was nothing.”
Mr. Jerome says he was also on duty during Claire’s funeral and believes there is someone out there who knows what happened to Claire.
He added: “A huge amount of effort went into those early stages, it was a busy night, an area which would have mainly been used by local people.
“It’s sad that an entire family has been wiped out. Claire’s parents have gone to their graves not knowing who killed their daughter.
“There must be witnesses who haven’t come forward, who are getting older now. Do they want to go to their graves with that vital piece of information?”
Lisa Gribbin was Claire’s best friend and along with other school friends they have got together and organised a candle lit walk and memorial service on 18 January, exactly 20 years to the day since she was murdered in the hope it may trigger someone’s memory as to what happened that night.
Lisa who said Claire was often known as Tilt said: “We have a strong feeling that with both Claire’s parents now gone, there is a need to carry on the fight to find her killer and finally get some justice for our dear friend.
“My eldest daughter has just turned 16 and I look at her and realise just how young Tilt was and how much she had taken away from her and her family and also us as her friends. She had her whole life ahead of her.
“You can never get over or forget what happened. Your life is forever changed.
“Our hope is that the person who knows what happened on that day will come forward allowing Claire, Lin and Cliff to finally get justice and for Tilt’s murderer to be punished for taking her life so cruelly and destroying her family.”
Detective Superintendant Rob Vinson from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “I have always maintained that the killer was a local person and that someone knows who he or she is.
“This year a good man went to his grave without ever seeing justice being served for the murder of his only daughter. This isn’t the end of our investigation; we have always maintained that someone has information about this murder and we will continue to investigate it.
“I hope that this event may prompt someone to finally come forward with the key piece of information that we need to identify Claire’s killer and help us bring this case to a successful conclusion.”
If you have information that may help with the investigation, contact the incident room on 01634 884010. Alternatively, telephone Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.
The candle lit walk with start at at 6pm on 18 January opposite The Bull at Horns Cross and proceed to the memorial site on London Road, close to where Claire died. It will be followed by a short service in St Mary’s church opposite, scheduled to start at 7pm.
Local people are encouraged to join Claire’s friends and family on the walk and to bring candles or torches.
Visit the website www.justiceforclaire.co.uk or join the facebook group called Claire’s memorial.
Posted on: 14 January 2013
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