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U.K. Cops Question Two Men In Slayings

Police pursuing the killer of five prostitutes arrested a second suspect and seized a car that a neighbor said the suspect had been constantly cleaning.

A court on Tuesday gave police permission to hold the first suspect, who was arrested Monday, for an additional 36 hours while officers scoured his back yard on hands and knees for possible clues.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull said both men were suspects in the murders of Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell, Gemma Adams and Annette Nicholls. The women's naked bodies were found dumped in rural areas of eastern England around Ipswich, 70 miles northeast of London, in a 10-day period beginning Dec. 2.

Police have said the first suspect, a 37-year-old man, was arrested Monday in a village outside Ipswich and the second, a 48-year-old man who lived in the town's red-light district, was taken into custody Tuesday. Neither man has been charged or formally identified.

Britain's Press Association and other media outlets, including Sky News and the British Broadcasting Corp., identified the second suspect as Steve Wright.

Wright worked as a forklift driver and had lived in the area since September, BBC television reported.

Neighbors said the man could often be seen outside his home washing his dark blue Ford Mondeo.

"He was always cleaning that Mondeo both inside and out," said David Welton, 43, who lived next door to the second suspect.

Joe Franey, 50, who lives on London Road in Ipswich, said he heard police banging on the door of a home two doors away at about 5 a.m.

"We saw him being led out, he was dressed," Franey said. "He seemed quite composed, quite normal."

Franey said the man and his female partner had moved to the area recently. "We see them around and said good morning and good evening but they didn't mix at all," he said.

Helena Assancao, 43, who lives nearby, said she was not reassured by the arrests.

"I know he (the killer) has only targeted prostitutes, but he could look more widely. You never know," Assancao said, adding that she no longer goes out alone after dark.

The suspect arrested Monday in Trimley St. Martin, 8 miles southeast of Ipswich, has been identified in news reports as Tom Stephens, 37, a part-time taxi driver and former special police constable, an unpaid volunteer.

He had been quoted as telling the Sunday Mirror newspaper that he was innocent, but that he knew all five of the victims and had previously been interviewed by police.

"I don't have alibis for some of the times (of the killings), actually I'm not entirely sure I have tight alibis for any of the times. But I'm not worried about being charged. I'm innocent," The Sunday Mirror quoted him as saying.

Stephens also gave a background which he requested not be aired, but the network decided after news of his arrest to make public.

Police in white overalls, hoods and face masks were seen in the garden of the home in Trimley St. Martin, at times on hands and knees probing the grass with gloved fingers.

Three of the bodies were found near the main road and the rail line between Ipswich and Trimley; the two others were discovered near the same road in areas south and southwest of Ipswich.

Clennell, 24, died of compression to her neck, and Alderton, 24, was strangled, a senior pathologist determined. Post-mortem examinations of the bodies of Nicol, 19, and Nicholls, 29, reached no conclusion on the cause of death.

An inquest into the death of Adams, 25, was opened and adjourned last week. The pathologist reached no conclusion about the cause of her death.

Coroners' inquests into the deaths of Nicol, Alderton, Nicholls and Clennell, which had been scheduled to open Monday, will begin on Wednesday, police said.

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