Tobin link to Jessie’s murder?

Jessie Earl
Jessie Earl

THE UNSOLVED murder of a student in Eastbourne more than 20 years ago was the subject of a television documentary this week.

Criminal psychologist David Wilson examined the killing of art student Jessie Earl whose remains were found at Beachy Head in 1989 nine years after she went missing from her town centre flat.

Sussex Police has carried out a cold case review of Jessie’s murder but no-one has ever been brought to justice for her death.

But in Channel 5’s Killers Behind Bars programme on Tuesday night, Professor Wilson pointed the finger of blame firmly at serial killer Peter Tobin, who is already in prison for the murders of three young girls.

The highly-respected real-life Cracker says Tobin is reported to have boasted of killing 48 young women and his modus operandi shows many similarities with Jessie’s death.

The art student’s remains were found with her hands bound with her bra in undergrowth at Beachy Head by council officer Gordon Cross in 1989 – nine years after she simply vanished from her bedsit in Upperton Gardens.

It is well known that Tobin lived in Brighton in the 1980s and is believed to have been linked to Holy Trinity Church in Eastbourne.

Professor Wilson spent two days filming in Eastbourne, interviewed former police officer Steve Dennis, who led the cold case investigation, and Herald chief reporter Annemarie Field, who reported on Jessie’s murder in 1989.

He also spoke to a vicar at Holy Trinity Church who recalls somebody matching Tobin’s description at the church in the 1980s.

The professor said he felt sure Tobin was behind the disappearance and death of Jessie, whose parents John and Valerie Earl still desperately want answers to their daughter’s death.

But Sussex Police said this week there was no new evidence or plans to re-open the case.

A spokesperson for the force said, “Although the tragic death of Jessie is recorded as a suspicious death, there was a detailed investigation by Sussex Police but no clear evidence to confirm that it was murder.

“There are no current or recent lines of enquiry and no plans to re-open the case.

“Following an extensive scoping exercise by police across the UK to establish and populate a timeline of Peter Tobin’s life (Operation Anagram), at this time there is no evidence or intelligence to suggest Tobin is responsible for committing any other criminality. It would be inappropriate to be drawn into speculating about any missing individuals and unresolved murder cases. Operation Anagram remains an open investigation and the team will never give up seeking to establish the full truth about Tobin and should any new information come to light, the same thoroughness and dedication will be offered.”