The three missing women at the centre of Bradford's new red light murder probe

ALL three women feared murdered by a serial killer worked as prostitutes in Bradford's red light district when they disappeared.

More on the Bradford killings, with video

Timeline: How the case unfolded

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Susan Rushworth

A MOTHER of three battling a heroin addiction, Susan Rushworth was trying to turn her life around in the weeks before she disappeared.

The 43-year-old was last seen between midday and 1pm on June 22, last year outside her flat at Oak Villas in the Manningham area of Bradford. She had boarded a bus earlier that day.

In the weeks before, she had been living with her mother and 20-year-old daughter while getting help for her addiction.

She had never been missing before and, within three weeks of her disappearance, detectives admitted they had grave concern for her welfare.

Miss Rushworth, known as Sue or Susie, was particularly vulnerable as she suffered from epilepsy and did not have any medication with her.

She had 100 on her at the time of her disappearance, and police initially explored the possibility she had died after taking drugs.

Detectives pointed to a spate of deaths in the Bradford area which were believed to be linked to a particularly potent batch of drugs doing the rounds.

But in July last year, the officer leading the search, Det Supt Dave Pervin, revealed police were also investigating the theory that Miss Rushworth had been attacked.

"We know that she is a street sex worker," he said. "It is possible she may have met with a man who was violent." Police scoured the area around Oak Villas and carried out door-to-door enquiries. Divers searched a lake in nearby Lister Park.

Miss Rushworth's son James appealed to anyone who saw her to contact police.

"She'd been off heroin for five weeks before she went missing and was getting help for her addiction," he said.

"There is no reason that she would have just left. She'd only recently started seeing her grandchildren and was getting to know them."

Shelley Armitage

SHELLEY ARMITAGE, a prostitute who is known to have worked in Bradford and Huddersfield, has been described as "a much loved daughter and sister".

The 31-year-old,who lived in Bentcliffe Walk, in the Allerton area of Bradford,was out with a friend on the night she went missing,Monday,April 26. The pair left her flat at about 7pm and had food in City Road before moving towards Sunbridge Road and Rebecca Street in the city's red light district.

Some of Miss Armitage's movements that night were captured on closed circuit TV in the city. She was last seen at 10pm, when she was carrying a bag and wearing a long grey cardigan, white vest top, dark jeans and white sandals.

She often worked in Rebecca Street, where residents and business owners knew her,and could often be seen asking to buy cigarettes from them and passers-by.

Police launched a poster appeal to help trace her earlier this month but have had few leads to follow. Officers searched near her home,Bell Dean Road and the Rebecca Street area, as well as making inquiries in Huddersfield where she worked last year.

As each day passed without news of her whereabouts and Miss Armitage's friends and family grew increasingly concerned about her, the case was taken up by West Yorkshire Police's Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (HMET).

Detectives said her disappearance was all the more unusual as she had recently bought a puppy which she adored and hated to be parted from for long.

Det Supt Sukarno Sing, of HMET, said:"We know she has health issues with drink and drugs and she has also failed to claim her benefits or use her mobile phone." Last night,as the wait for news of Miss Armitage's whereabouts dragged into a second month,detectives' hopes of finding her alive were starting to fade.

Suzanne Blamires

SUZANNE BLAMIRES, who was also known as Amber, was the last of the three women in the inquiry to go missing.

The 36-year-old was last seen on Friday and her disappearance was reported to West Yorkshire Police the following day.

Last night sources told the Yorkshire Post that the body parts discovered in the River Aire at Shipley were almost certainly hers, although the remains had yet to be formally identified.

The remains were found in the water just a few yards from where the busy Otley Road dual carriageway crosses the Aire.

Yesterday, the scene was guarded by large white tents and screens had been set up on either side of the river to protect the crucial work being undertaken by forensic officers from prying eyes, while divers continued to search the water below.

Ms Blamires was a friend of another of the missing women, Shelley Armitage, who was last seen alive on April 26.

Her home – a flat in BarkstonWalk, in the Allerton area of Bradford – is only three streets away from Miss Armitage's flat in Bentcliffe Walk.

It is understood Ms Blamires had worked as a prostitute in the city for several years.

She was fined in September 2001 after being caught propositioning a plain clothes police officer in the Richmond Road area of the city, between Bradford University and Bradford College.

Police vice squad officers had stepped up patrols near the university's halls of residence after learning that some prostitutes had moved there from the Thornton Road area of the city.

It was believed the sex workers had moved there in anticipation of an influx of freshers starting at the university.

Ms Blamires' relatives were last night being supported by family liaison officers.

Bradford residents who saw Shelley Armitage working in Bradford's redlight district remembered her as a "nice" and "pleasant" woman.

A local business owner said he knew Miss Armitage as she worked near his premises. "I do remember her quite well," he said. "She would come and chat as we were closing up.

"She seemed like a nice girl to me. Of course, she had often been drinking.

But all the girls down here have one problem or another, whether it's drink or drugs or whatever.

"It's a real shame, whatever's happened to her.

She was last seen just a short way away from us." Jan Harrison, who works in a nearby market, pointed to the exact spot in Rebecca Street where she last chatted to Miss Armitage five or six weeks ago at about 7.30am.

Mrs Harrison said: "She just asked me if she could buy a cigarette. I usually say to the girls 'give us a pound' but she said 'I've only got a 20 note'.

"I remember replying to her that if she only had a 20 note she could go and change it on John Street." Mrs Harrison said she would often talk to Miss Armitage as she parked her car in Rebecca Street where the young woman usually worked.

Mrs Harrison said she would often give her cigarettes and talk to her about all kinds of things, adding: "She was pleasant.

Nothing to write home about but she wasn't scruffy, she wasn't dirty.

She was just a normal girl." Mrs Harrison said the area around Rebecca Street, Paradise Street and Sunbridge Road was the base for many prostitutes and had a big problem with drugs.

She said she was old enough to remember the fear in the area in the late 1970s before the Yorkshire Ripper was caught.

"That stopped people going out. People were scared," she said.

"No-one wants that again."