Posted on June 12th, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

The devastated sister of Michelle Samaraweera whose body was found dumped in a London Park has appealed to the public to help officers catch the man responsible for her murder.

Ann Chandradasa, 37, urged anyone with information about her sister’s murder or the two linked sexual assaults in Walthamstow to come forward before anyone else is targeted.

Michelle’s body was discovered on 30 May 2009 in a small park and play area along Queen’s Road, E17, junction with Markhouse Road. She had been strangled and raped.

The 35-year-old’s murder was quickly linked by DNA with two similar assaults in Waltham Forest. The first was on 24 March 2009 as a 59-year-old woman walked to her front door near the Queen’s Road, E17 and the second on 22 April 2009 after the 46-year-old victim walked along Lea Bridge Road.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ As the criminal is a serial rapist police suspect that there might be other women who had not reported the sexual attacks of the criminal and sometimes they might be able to identify him.

Speaking on behalf of her mother and her two other sisters, Ann said: “We are sickened by what has happened to our baby sister. Michelle was the youngest and we always protected and shielded her. Nobody deserves for this to happen and to end up dumped in a children’s playground is just sickening.”

“Michelle was so friendly and loving and would do anything for anyone. Her smile could light up a room and she adored her nieces and nephews. We just can’t imagine why anyone would want to do this – to make her suffer in the way she did.”

The mother-of-two added: “We just need information about the man who did this. My sister has been murdered and two women have been attacked. There could be other women out there who have been attacked but haven’t come forward and they could help solve this. My mum is in pieces – we’re all in pieces. She said we’ll never see Michelle walking through the door again but we’re trying to stay strong for each other.”

The suspect has been described as being of Asian appearance, or with dark skin, and is aged between 30 and 40 years.

As part of the investigation officers have been conducting extensive enquiries and residents who match the description have been asked to provide a DNA sample.

Detective Superintendent Vic Rae, who is leading the investigation from the Met’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command (HSCC), said:

“The DNA test is designed solely to apprehend the individual responsible for Michelle’s brutal murder and the two linked sexual assaults. Much consideration and planning has gone into this decision and we feel this is the quickest and most comprehensive way to eliminate men from our investigation.

“Whilst stranger murders and sexual assaults are incredibly rare we have to be mindful of the terrible ordeal these ladies endured. Michelle suffered a terrifying assault and the physical abuse against the other two women was significant. All three endured horrendous sexual abuse and it is therefore with the whole community in mind that we work to trace this man. So far we have received nothing but support for the testing and the investigation as a whole.”

Following previous appeals officers released two CCTV stills of Michelle at 01:00hrs on 30 May 2009 as she entered Somerfield’s in Markhouse Road, opposite the junction with Queens Road.

Det. Supt. Rae added: “Michelle was wearing a very distinctive black jacket with white parallel lines down the sleeves. We know she was in Somerfield’s between 01:00hrs and around 01:15hrs but we have no other sightings of her between 22:00hrs on 29 May and the time her body was found at around 05:50hrs on 30 May. We need to hear from anyone who saw Michelle or who has any information which could help.”

Since the murder on 30 May Waltham Forest police have increased high-visibility patrols and are keen to hear from anyone who may have been approached by a man matching the description of the suspect.

Chief Superintendent Mark Benbow, Borough Commander for Waltham Forest, said: “Our Safer Neighbourhoods teams have been working hard to offer reassurance to the local communities but we do urge women in the area to remain especially vigilant, particularly if walking alone at night. We are also keen to hear from anyone who may have information about the suspect or who may have been approached in similar circumstances. Their information, however small, could greatly assist the investigation team.”

Anyone with information that may assist the inquiry should call the incident room on 020 8345 3715; if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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