Joanna Yeates: Chris Jefferies Is More Robert Murat Than Serial Killer
JOANNA Yeates gave the holiday season’s media its young, female, attractive blonde victim. Anyone else killed over Christmas does not feature. Her landlord Chris Jefferies gave the media its weird, nutty, oddball figure of speculation. His character has been assassinated and then hung out to dry. Anyone looking to see if the press have learned anything from the voracious feeding frenzy after Madeleine McCann went missing can forget it. Right now Chris Jefferies has more in common with Robert Murat than any killer.
After two days in a police cells, Jefferies has been released on police bail. This tells us one thing: if Avon and Somerset Police have any evidence against him it is not enough to take him to court with.
Greg Reardon, boyfriend of Miss Yeates, says:
“The finger-pointing and character assassination by social and news media of an as yet innocent men has been shameful. It has made me lose a lot of faith in the morality of the British Press and those that spend their time fixed to the internet in this modern age.”
And while the press snipe and gossip, the case remains open. Indeed, 27 other murder cases in the Avon and Somerset police area remain open. They are unsolved. The Mail’s busy “Daily Mail Reporter” did see…
…striking similarities’ between Miss Yeates’s disappearance and the unsolved murder of Melanie Hall.
Two murders by the same hand? A serial killer? Melanie Hall was killed 14 years ago. She was blonde. She was young. She was attractive. She was white. The Mail told us:
Her body was then wrapped in black bin bags and tied with blue rope before being left in vegetation alongside the motorway slip-road.
Joanna Yeates body was not wrapped in anything. The similarities are not striking.
The police have open cases on people like Glenis Carruthers. On January 19, 1974, the 20-year-old from Buckinghamshire was murdered. And there’s Linda Guest. On April 21, 1985, the 35-year-old prostitute was stabbed to death.(Unlike the Miss Carruthers and Miss Hall, there is no mention of her on the police’s website. Why?)
Are these victims any less relevant because they were not blonde?
Still, Jo Yeates, as the media must call her – a nod to their familiarity with the women they never knew when she alive (as Madeleine McCann must be Our Maddie) – is a snuff movie that fills a spot in the news cycle. Here’s the Mirror’s Jason Cowley on the entertaining Miss Yates:
What gives these blurry, indistinct images their nearunbearable poignancy is that we view them in retrospect. It’s like watching a movie for the second time: we know what will happen next. We know that soon after buying the pizza, Jo will disappear. That her body will be found dumped on the edges of a golf course.
Such is the way of the noble mainstream press – all look and no insight. The Star’s George Whelan hears Mr Reardon’s condemnation of the media and tells Star readers:
In his statement Greg, speaking out for the first time since discovering Joanna had been ¬murdered, branded as “shameful” internet sleuths who had been speculating and fingerpointing at an “as yet innocent man”.
Well, not exactly. He criticised all media. Mr Reardon may even have been thinking of the Star’s Steve Hughes, who informed us:
Former pupils at Clifton College in Bristol told how Christopher Jefferies, 65, loved to make lewd sexual remarks to children.
He cricised the Sun for a headline:
“Weird, Posh, Lewd, Creepy”
Guy Walters tells Telegraph readers:
Unfortunately, thanks to a disgraceful campaign of innuendo waged by the media, his name will forever be linked in the public’s mind with the murder of Joanna Yeates. Variously labelled as ’strange’ and a ‘peeping tom’, Mr Jefferies will find it hard, if not impossible, to return to his quiet and decent life.
It was the Telegraph that told us:
“…has been described by pupils at Clifton College where he worked for 30 years as a fan of dark and violent avant garde films.”
Greg Reardon criticised the Mail, which linked Jefferies to a paedophile and told readers:
Described as a ‘nutty professor’, the bachelor used to dye his hair blue and has an obsession with Christina Rossetti, a 19th-century poet who often wrote about death.
The media loves the media. Stuart Andrews was Jefferies headmaster Clifton College in Bristol:
“When all the forensic details have been gone through the police will have to release him. I am sad to think that even if the police eliminate him from their inquiries his life will be ruined because he is all over the television and newspapers.”
As one commenter put it:
Landlord is quite right saying nothing to the press or public, thats how stories grow arms and legs, as long as the police have all the information thats what matters.
What do we know of Mr Jefferies? One neighbour did call him a “pillar of society”. And he did hold down a job at Clifton College for 35 years. He rented out his flat to Joanna Yeates and her boyfriend Greg Reardon. He is the vice-chairman of his local Neighbourhood Watch team. But the salacious media is not interested in such facts.
This case may well hit in the libel courts before any criminal case begins…