A QUARTER of a century ago, Deborah Wood’s burning body was found on a Leeds train platform – and the case is still cold today.
But Deborah’s brother Craig believes one crucial piece of evidence has linked her death to a notorious serial rapist and killer.
Craig believes a necklace found in the car of John Taylor after the murder of 16-year-old Leanne Tiernan in 2000 used to belong to his 20-year-old sister.
Craig tells Channel 4’s In The Footsteps of Killers: “I was watching a documentary of Leanne Tiernan and near the end the police said they’d discovered a necklace lodged down the side of the boot in John Taylor’s car.”
He added: “That’s the strange thing about this case.
“There’s some circumstantial evidence there that’s linking what happened to Deborah to Leanne Tiernan.”
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Craig believes the case was mismanaged from the start. He and his now-deceased mum Linda heartbreakingly only found out about Deborah’s murder on TV ten days after she went missing.
He said: “A local television channel described about a body being found at Burley Railway Station.
“My mum sort of had an inkling that the clothes that were described were the clothes that my mum had bought her.
“You just have a gut feeling.”
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Despite a Crimewatch appeal three years after Deborah’s killing and another to mark the 25th anniversary of her death, no progress has ever been made on the case.
Taylor was convicted of killing teenager Leanne after it emerged he had kept her in cold storage, bound her body and then buried her in Lindley Woods.
He was handed a whole life term for the brutal killing and was later convicted of five rapes too.
It is believed Deborah’s body had also been kept in cold storage as there was still alcohol in her system ten days after she was last seen exiting Big Lil’s pub in Leeds.
Craig told the police he believed the necklace found in Taylor’s car belonged to Deborah – but claims they failed to properly investigate.
He said: “I’d say about five years ago a plainclothes CID officer went round to mum’s house and showed her the jewellery and said, ‘Do you recognise any of this jewellery?’.
“She said he didn’t even take it out of the bag to show her.
“As soon as she said she didn’t recognise it or couldn’t even see it, he were gone.”
He added: “If there’s any jewellery to be shown, why don’t they show my other two sisters or me? We might recognise something.”
Criminologist Graham Hill has also linked Deborah’s murder to John Taylor – saying he liked to offend when he was stressed.
Investigating Taylor’s life, he discovered Deborah was killed eight months before the murderer separated from his wife.
Graham said: “People don’t just go out and offend. There has to be some sort of reason behind the offending.
“Often they find offending a destresser.”
CCTV never examined
In The Footsteps of a Killer, which airs tonight, examines how Deborah and Taylor were both regulars at Big Lil’s pub – where she spent her last night alive.
Former staff from the time say police never spoke to them – and they could have handed over CCTV.
Former manager Garth Durkin said Taylor was a customer at Big Lil’s in 1996 and would have known Deborah.
He said: “He would have definitely spoken or acknowledged all the group that were sat in Lil’s at that time.
“Because that was the sort of people they were.”
Former doorman Allan Moss added: “Did he leave with her that night? I couldn’t tell you.
“If he’d have been in the night she’s gone missing, he’d have been talking to her.”
Before murdering Leanne, Taylor had carried out a series of brutal attacks dating back from the late Seventies.
He abducted a seven-year-old girl in broad daylight and his oldest victim was 30. One was a mum out walking with her children in the woods.
The barrister who prescuted Taylor for these rapes believes he was capable of more crimes and didn’t have a set modus operandi.
Stephen Wood KC said: “He didn’t have a particular categorisation of victim.
“Violence was the predominant feature of his offending.”
Another woman believed to have been killed by Taylor was Leeds and Bradford-based mum Yvonne Fitts, who worked as a sex worker in the area.
Tellingly, her body was found in 1992 in Lindley Woods – about 100 yards from where Taylor would later bury Leanne.
He has also been linked to the death of sex worker Donna Healey in 1991.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police told the show: “As this remains an undetected murder, we can only confirm the venue Big Lil’s featured in the investigation.
“We do not comment on third party connections to an undetected crime.
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“Deborah’s murder remains an open investigation and evidence will continue to be reviewed in light of any new information being received.”
In The Footsteps of Killers airs tonight at 10pm on Channel 4 and is available on demand.
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