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Police appeal over 1995 murder

New DNA evidence could hold the key to solving the brutal 20-year-old murder of a mother-of-three, say police.

Janet Brown had been gagged with packing tape, and her arms hand-cuffed behind her before she was savagely beaten about the head at home on April 10, 1995.

But on the anniversary of her death detectives have revealed the possible breakthrough, as her daughters made an emotional appeal to the public for help in tracing the "kind and loving" nurse's killer.

Roxanne and Zara Brown said the horror of their mother's death "stays with us every day".

"She was attacked and killed in our family home - a place where we should all be safe."

The women, aged 18 and 23 at the time, also said they believed their mother's death had been pre-planned.

Detectives reviewing the old case described the killing of Mrs Brown as "heinous", and her injuries as "horrendous".

Mrs Brown, a primary care nurse, had been home alone that night with her daughters and son Benedict, then 21, having gone out.

The following day, the 51-year-old nurse's naked body was found at the foot of the stairs by builders who had turned up to do work on the detached house in Sprigs Holly Lane, Radnage near Chinnor in Buckinghamshire.

A post mortem revealed she died of head injuries, which detectives believe were probably inflicted by a blunt instrument like a crowbar.

The motive remains unclear with police describing the circumstances of the crime as "unusual", adding they "keeping an open mind".

One possible line of inquiry was that it had been a break-in gone wrong, but while a window was broken and the burglar alarm triggered, nothing was taken from the home.

There was also no evidence Mrs Brown had been sexually assaulted.

Detectives said that whomever the attacker was had brought the hand-cuffs and tape used to restrain Mrs Brown along with them.

Despite what police called a "thorough and professional investigation" at the time the killer has eluded capture, leaving her broken-hearted family without justice.

In a bid to finally find the culprit, detectives turned to modern scientific techniques to analyse clues found at the time.

Peter Beirne, the head of Thames Valley Police's major crime investigation review team, revealed a DNA sample belonging to an unknown person had now been successfully extracted.

"These new tests have produced a DNA sample," he said.

"It does not belong to the family and we believe it could be a vital piece of evidence linking the killer to the scene."

He would not reveal what item the DNA sample was taken from.

Police say there are plans to swab a number of people who featured in the original investigation, but stress there were "no suspects, as such" - there have never been any arrests over the case.

Instead, Mr Beirne said he was first appealing to the public to put forward names of anyone they believe may have been involved, who would then be tested.

It would then be "a simple task to either eliminate or implicate people as the source of the DNA", he added.

Mr Beirne, a retired veteran police officer with more than 30 years experience as a detective, said if nothing useful comes to light then investigators may then look at "a potential mass screening" in the area.

He said: "Janet's death left three children without a mother.

"We want to bring justice to Janet's family.

"If people have suspicions, I would urge them to contact police."

Mr Beirne added: "Somebody out there knows who killed Janet - we're asking them to make contact."

Also appealing to the public, Roxanne Brown said: "We need your help to find them."

It was revealed had she survived, Mrs Brown would now be a grandmother with detectives saying the youngsters had been robbed of the chance to know her.

A £20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to a successful conviction of the killer.

Anyone who believes they may have any information about the crime is urged to call the police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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