IPSWICH, England (AP) - Five slain prostitutes were mourned Thursday at a memorial service, and police identified one victim as a woman who told reporters days before her death that she was afraid of a suspected serial killer but needed money to support her heroin habit.
The naked body of Paula Clennell, 24, was found on the side of the road this week. Police said she died from "compression to the neck" but refused to elaborate. She was interviewed on television last week and said she was determined to get back on the street because she needed money for heroin. Days later she vanished.
"Poor girls," said Angela Marjoram, one of about 50 parishioners at a memorial service at a small, stone 11th century church in the provincial port town.
Inside the hushed pews, the sober congregation interrupted their annual Christmas carol service to light candles for each of the dead women.
Elderly women wiped tears away from beneath their thick glasses, as the vicar read out the names of the prostitutes.
The church's vicar said the youngest victim — 19-year-old Tania Nicol — used to visit the church a few years ago.
"I am deeply saddened that we lost contact with her," said the Rev. Andre Dotchin.
A tennis shoe was found near the River Orwell, and police were examining other items of clothing to determine if they belonged to the victims. Police were also combing through more than 5,500 calls to a hotline and some 1,000 e-mail tips.
The killings have reminded Britons of the so-called Yorkshire Ripper who killed 13 women over five years in the 1970s. This time, police have found the naked bodies of five prostitutes in just 10 days.
The identity of one victim is still pending but she is thought to be Annette Nicholls, 29, a prostitute who was recently reported missing, according to Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull.
Anneli Alderton, 24, whose body was discovered in a wooded area Sunday, had been strangled.
Gull said all five women were drug addicts.
The cause of death of 25-year-old Gemma Adams and Nicol was still unclear because their bodies were found in water.
All five were found within a few miles of each other in and around Ipswich, a city of 120,000 people about 70 miles northeast of London.
Ipswich used to be a bustling River Orwell port in the 19th century. There were nearly 40 brothels in the red light district at the time, but these days the prostitutes ply their trade on a quiet road lined by red-brick houses in the shadow of the town's main soccer stadium.
Throughout the town, women spoke of fear clouding their daily routines.
Town authorities organized shuttle services to get women home from the local council offices. The council's monthly newsletter was publishing a message advising women not to be in the streets alone.
"When it first started, people were able to detach themselves and say, it's not something that affects me," said Terry Hunt, editor of the East Anglia Daily Times, one of the dominant newspapers in eastern England.
"But as it accelerated and more bodies were found, people started feeling it does affect me. They began asking, 'Is he after prostitutes? Or is he after women — and prostitutes just happen to be easier prey?'" he said.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.