Jia Ashton murder detectives release sketches of mystery men

NMAC11-0754-3''Somercotes Murder e-fit
NMAC11-0754-3''Somercotes Murder e-fit

DETECTIVES hunting the killer of Somercotes woman Jia Ashton have released artists impressions of two men spotted in Sleetmoor Wood on the day she was murdered.

Several witnesses have told police they saw the men in the woods some time between 4pm and 7pm on Thursday 10th March. They were not together.

NMAC11-0754-1''Somercotes Murder e-fit

NMAC11-0754-1''Somercotes Murder e-fit

The images are of a man in a beanie hat, khaki trousers, a khaki jacket and boots. He was carrying a satchel-type bag over his shoulder. Another image of this man shows he was not clean-shaven.

The second man also wore khaki-coloured trousers, boots, and a red hooded top with the hood pulled up. Witnesses said they saw this man smoking.

Detectives from Derbyshire Police say the men may have had a legitimate reason for being in the woods on the day Mrs Ashton (25) died, but that they are yet to come forward.

Det Chief Supt Steve Cotterill said: “We’re very pleased with the response from the community so far.

“They have assisted us in building an image of two men seen in the area on Thursday, March 10, who have yet to come forward. We are anxious to speak to them in case they have information which could help with the inquiry.

“I would urge these men to get in touch with us. They could have been in Sleetmoor Woods for a genuine reason but have been reluctant to come forward because of the nature of our investigation.

“They should come forward to eliminate themselves from inquiries and trust that they can speak to us in confidence.”

Mrs Ashton’s body was found in the wood three days after she vanished having left work at Thorntons’ nearby headquarters. Police think she was killed as she walked to her home in Springfield Crescent in Somercotes along a path in the wood.

Det Chief Supt Cotterill said he believes people in the community, especially those who regularly use the path, known as Yellow Brick Road, may recognise the men.

He added: “There are joggers, dog walkers and industrial estate workers who pass through the woods every day and these images may help to help to refresh their memories.

“I believe someone in the local community holds the key for us to capture whoever murdered Jia. I’m particularly interested to hear from anyone who has a suspicion around someone they know who frequents the woods. Someone who, on the face of it, would perhaps not have a legitimate reason for using the woods like joggers and dog walkers do.

“Jia was vulnerable because of her height and build and it would not have been difficult to overpower her.

“She was a young woman with her whole life ahead of her and I am urging people to come forward and help us with our investigation.”

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Derbyshire police on 0345 123 33 33 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.