Jo Yeates’ Facebook friends are asked for DNA samples
By Luke Salkeld And Ryan Kisiel
Jo Yeates’ Facebook friends are asked for DNA samples as calls for mass screening grow
Detectives hunting the killer of Joanna Yeates are taking DNA samples from her Facebook friends.
They are swabbing dozens of people across Britain as calls for mass screening in her home city grow.
Those targeted include men who live more than 100 miles from the murder scene.
Officers are convinced that Miss Yeates, who was missing for eight days before her body was found a short drive from her home on Christmas Day, was killed by someone she knew.
The landscape architect had up to 200 friends on the website. Police are also asking for background information about her life and her relationship with her boyfriend Greg Reardon.
Miss Yeates’s neighbours in the affluent suburb of Clifton, Bristol, may also be asked to give DNA samples.
In a separate move, officers are due to hold talks this morning about possibly overhauling the investigating team.
One suggestion is that ‘wiser, older heads’ could be drafted in to assist some of the younger detectives.
Police are also studying phone records after it emerged from one of Jo’s friends that she sent her last text at 8.20pm.
Jo invited Matthew Wood out for a drink in the message but because he was at a Christmas party he didn’t reply until 9.20pm. He told The Sun of his subsequent anguish at the fact that Jo didn’t reply, but police hope the new information will help them determine what time she was strangled.
Police forces in other parts of the country are assisting with taking the DNA samples and conducting interviews.
One of Miss Yeates’s friends, who lives more than 100 miles from Bristol and had not seen the 25-year-old for several weeks, had a swab taken from the inside of his cheek last week.
He was invited to provide a witness statement as one of those on Miss Yeates’s Facebook friends list.
Officers asked him about her relationship with Mr Reardon and whether she ever mentioned somebody taking an unusual interest in her.
They also wanted to know if anybody had seemed ‘weird’ or been overly friendly.
The friend said: ‘I spoke to the police on the phone when she was a missing person and gave a bit of background.
‘Last week they gave me a call and wanted to speak to me again. I hadn’t seen Jo for weeks, but was happy to help.
They wanted to know my movements on the night she was last seen even though I was on the other side of the country.’
He added: ‘The main thing they wanted was background on her friendship circles and her relationships with people.
‘The officer asked about people on the periphery of her friendship group and if anyone had ever confided having a soft spot for her.I didn’t know much about that and nobody really ever talked about Jo like that.
‘As for her relationship with Greg, it was solid, they were happy and a great couple.
‘At the end of the interview they wanted me to provide a DNA sample. I thought it was odd, but they said it was routine and they’d be asking all her friends for it.’
Even the Lord Mayor of Bristol’s staff could be asked to provide samples as his official residence is only 60ft from Miss Yeates’s rented basement flat.
There have been calls for DNA testing to be extended to the whole of Bristol.
Her landlord Christopher Jefferies, 65, was arrested on suspicion of her murder and released on police bail. He denies any involvement.