Morning swoop in hunt for Jodi's killer

AS THE residents of the quiet Midlothian housing estate prepared for the day ahead, the early-morning stillness was disturbed by the sound of screeching brakes and slamming doors.

Moments later, a dozen police officers stood in the suburban crescent in Newbattle, near Dalkeith.

At 7:30am, four plain-clothes detectives emerged from a detached house in the street with a 15-year-old boy in handcuffs, closely followed by his 45-year-old mother - both charged in connection with one of the most disturbing murders in recent Scottish criminal history.

For Lothian and Borders Police, the early-morning raid had come at the end one of biggest investigations carried out by the force, which had originally presented a dossier of evidence on the murder of Jodi Jones to the Edinburgh procurator-fiscal, William Gallagher, on 25 November last year.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: "We can confirm that a 15-year-old boy has been arrested and charged in connection with the murder of Jodi Jones. A 45-year-old has also been arrested in connection with allegations of attempting to pervert the course of justice. A report on this has been sent to the procurator fiscal."

The 15-year-old is expected in court today.

Jodi was stabbed to death on 30 June last year, shortly after she left her family home in Easthouses, near Dalkeith, Midlothian, to visit her boyfriend. She was last seen just after tea-time, walking along a path known locally as Roman Dyke, which led to the neighbouring village of Newbattle.

But she never returned and, six hours later, her boyfriend and a relative discovered her partially-clothed body in the woods, 500 yards from where she had lived. Her throat had been cut and she had been stabbed repeatedly.

More than 3,000 people were questioned during the police inquiry, dozens of extra officers were drafted in from across the force, and detectives had flown to the United States to meet members of the FBI to help with the investigation. Forensic teams spent days at the scene where her body was found.

In the wake of Jodi’s murder, the former mining community in which she lived and its outlying villages were transformed by the fear that her killer could strike again. Parks and playgrounds that formerly rang with the sound of children’s voices were hushed and empty. Outside school gates, the roads were packed each evening as parents picked up their children - most of whom would have walked home before Jodi’s murder.

Jodi was laid to rest on 3 September last year in an unconventional service featuring music by her favourite rock band, Nirvana. On the morning of her funeral, hundreds of locals from Dalkeith, Easthouses and Gorebridge gathered in the streets around her home to pay their respects. As the procession passed St David’s secondary school in Dalkeith, where Jodi attended classes, the youngster’s classmates ran out of the school gates to say their farewells.

At Gorebridge Church, the rows of wooden pews were full of people who knew Jodi, and a large contingent of police detectives. Inside the church, three plain vases, each containing a sunflower, gave colour to the uncluttered interior of the building, built in the late 19th century for the mining community.

Jodi’s mother, Judy, was supported by her son, Joseph, as she entered the church, taking the pew at the head of the congregation with other family members, including the teenager’s sister, Janine.

As the service began, Jodi’s life was remembered in the music she loved, which rang out as her white coffin was slowly carried into the church. Songs special to her played throughout the service, including the Rolling Stones’s As Tears Go By and Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. The music was relayed outside, where more than 200 mourners had gathered in the sunshine.

Addressing the congregation, the Rev Mark Nicholas referred throughout to Jodi’s great love of music and how it reflected the youngster’s personality. He said: "It was music that bridged generations and tastes, words and meaning universal to everyone at the service today, songs chosen by her family to give voice to the person behind the headlines."

Jodi’s uncle, Kevin, then read a tribute. He said: "Jodi was a person of great warmth and thought, an individual who believed everyone to be the same. Every person in life has his or her own person like Jodi, an individual."

As the service continued, Marian Docherty, the school’s headteacher, read out tributes from Jodi’s friends. One said: "She was never lost for words, but she was a very kind person. She rarely had a bad thing to say for anyone."

Family's wait

THE events leading up to yesterday’s arrest for the murder of Jodi Jones have taken close to a year.

30 June, 2003: Jodi Jones’s family raise the alarm when she fails to turn up for a meeting. Her body is later found during a search of woods behind Newbattle Community High School.

2 July: Police say they are looking for a local man.

5 July: Police question a potential suspect, but no charges are pressed.

A reconstruction of Jodi’s last known steps is also carried out to help jog memories.

11 July: Stepping up the search for a murder weapon, police clear areas of undergrowth. Two knives are later found, but are subsequently rejected as potential murder weapons.

14 July: Police admit that an arrest is not likely to be made in the near future.

17 July: The River Esk is searched by police divers looking for a murder weapon.

23 July: Detectives involved in the investigation bring in an independent team of officers to review the case.

31 July: One month after her body is found, police claim that the investigation is still moving forward after taking 3,000 statements from locals.

14 August: A suspect is questioned by the police for a second time. No charges are pressed.

4 September: Jodi’s funeral is attended by hundreds of locals who line the streets on the route to Gorebridge Parish Church.

9 October: A search of a local sewage works by police using X-rays and underwater cameras fails to produce any new clues.

27 December: The procurator-fiscal delays the decision over whether or not to allow murder charges to be pressed.

14 April, 2004: A 15-year-old boy and his mother are arrested. He is charged in connection with her murder, while the woman is arrested in connection with attempting to pervert the course of justice.