Women told to take care while Joanna Yeates's killer still free

DETECTIVES investigating the murder of landscape architect Joanna Yeates have warned women in the area to avoid walking alone after dark after admitting her killer remains "at large".

Officers from Avon and Somerset Police yesterday moved to reassure the public that they are still working tirelessly to bring to justice whoever killed Miss Yeates, 25, whose snow-covered body was discovered on a golf course in Bristol on Christmas Day.

Miss Yeates's landlord, Christopher Jefferies, a 65-year-old retired schoolteacher originally from Grimsby, was arrested on suspicion of murder on Thursday, but then released on bail late on Saturday night.

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Forensic officers are continuing their examination of the smart Victorian property where he lives, directly above the ground-floor flat he rented to Miss Yeates and her boyfriend, Greg Reardon.

Speaking outside the building yesterday, Chief Superintendent Jon Stratford of Avon and Somerset Police said: "I can understand why the public in the Clifton and wider Bristol area have concerns for their safety. Whoever killed Jo remains at large.

"However, I want to reassure the public that there remains no specific intelligence or information to suggest there is an increased threat to their safety at this time.

"Naturally we ask the public to continue to take the usual safety precautions.

"Lone women should avoid walking home alone after dark and householders should keep their premises secure and take care answering the door to strangers."

Increased patrols are being maintained in Clifton to reassure the public, he added.

Meanwhile detectives leading the murder inquiry have made a fresh appeal for witnesses to help them catch the killer.

Speaking at a Press conference yesterday, Det Ch Insp Phil Jones said: "I would like to reassure the public that this investigation is very much ongoing. We have a team of over 70 police officers and staff working tirelessly to bring the person responsible for Joanna's death to justice.

"The incident room has been inundated with thousands of calls from members of the public who have provided us with information. This information is being scrutinised and followed up by specially trained officers who are exhausting every lead and avenue we are provided with.

"I would once again urge anyone who may not have called us to make contact with one of my officers and provide us with any information you may have.

"You may think your information is insignificant but please let us decide. This will be treated in confidence."

Special prayers were said in a local church yesterday for the murdered woman. Associate vicar Dan Clark, who led the service at a church near Miss Yeates's flat, asked the congregation to remember the 25-year-old's family and the police investigating the case.

He told members at Christ Church in Bristol's upmarket Clifton area: "Many of you will know this has been quite a difficult few weeks for the local community following the sad news about Joanna Yeates.

"I would like us to pause and bring our own quiet prayers for Joanna's family."

Miss Yeates was last seen alive on December 17, after leaving a works night out at a local pub.

She was spotted on CCTV buying pizza and cider before returning to her flat. Mr Reardon reported her missing two days later, after returning from a weekend visiting family in Sheffield.

Her body was discovered on Christmas Day. A post-mortem examination revealed she had been strangled.