Appeal to public in hunt for killer

MURDER case detectives yesterday joined with the family of a woman who was murdered in her own home to appeal for information which may help them catch her killer.

Julie Ann Gallagher, 41, was stabbed once in the chest and was found at her terrace house in Foljambe Road, Eastwood, Rotherham, at 12.30pm on Saturday, March 27.

Senior officers revealed that some of Mrs Gallagher's jewellery was missing and believe the items may have been taken at the time she was killed.

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Detectives revealed divorcee Mrs Gallagher had been seen arguing with a man in the street on the night she was last seen alive, shortly after she left her local pub.

Mrs Gallagher's sisters, Deborah Bradshaw and Mandy Smith, appeared

with her parents, Barbara Earl and Brian Scattergood, to make an emotional appeal yesterday.

The family said their lives had been "devastated" and asked anybody

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with information about the killer's identity to come forward immediately.

Speaking for the family, Mrs Bradshaw said: "We cannot believe that

Julie is not here with us, that we will never see or hear from her again. We still expect her to visit, ring or text.

"Everybody that knew Julie, whether they are her family or her friends, loved to be around her. We need to know what happened to Julie so we can try and make sense of it.

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"We need closure to be able to move forward. Julie did not deserve this, after all that she had been through in her life with illness. When she was just two years old she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder.

"She has always got through things because that is the sort of person she was. She was never one for wallowing in self-pity. She just got on with her life."

Det Supt Colin Fisher who is leading the investigation, described the crime as a "brutal, cold-blooded and sinister murder" and said he believed the victim knew her killer.

A 55-year-old man from Eastwood, who was arrested on suspicion of murder shortly after the murder, has been released on bail, but police said he was "still under investigation".

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Det Supt Fisher added: "This woman was killed in her own home. It doesn't get more chilling than that. I am confident that the answer to this lies in the community and would urge anyone with information to get in touch.

"Julie was last seen alive as she left the Cranworth public house in Fitzwilliam Road, at about 1.15am on Thursday, March 25. She walked home alone.

"A witness has reported seeing Julie arguing with a man in Fitzwilliam Road, near to its junction with St John's Road, a short time later. Following the argument both left in separate directions.

"I would like to hear from that man or anyone who knows who that man is. He is described a slim build, less than 5ft 9in tall, with a light coloured jacket and white or grey hair.

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"I now believe Julie got home safe that night, and I am now focusing on her activities from noon on Thursday, March 25. With the help of her family, I am now able to reveal a number of items of personal property were also taken."

The missing items include a black handbag, a gold belcher chain with an unusual pendant, a pair of Creole-style earrings, a gold bangle, a wedding ring and a SAGEM flip mobile phone.

Det Supt Fisher could not say whether the items had been taken off Mrs Gallagher's body but stressed that anybody who recognised the descriptions should contact his team.

Mrs Bradshaw added: "From our hearts, we appeal for anybody with any information, however large or small.

"I would urge anyone who is protecting Julie's killer to think again, it is not too late for you to come forward and do the right thing."

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