Police search at home near Dartford into historic murder of Claire Tiltman
Police have left a house near Dartford which was being searched in connection with the historic murder of Claire Tiltman.
Everything is quiet in Myrtle Place, Stone, this morning after yesterday's events.
Officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate Cold Case Investigation Team conducted the search at an address there.
They arrived early Thursday morning and left at about 9.30pm, neighbours said.
A police spokesman said yesterday it was part of their "on-going inquiries into the historic murder of Claire Tiltman".
They said: "It is standard practice that undetected murders such as Claire's will be reviewed regularly. The activity today is part of that ongoing review."
Tilt, as she was known to her friends, was stabbed more than 40 times in an alleyway off London Road, Greenhithe, in 1993.
It was just four days after her 16th birthday and not far from her home in Woodward Terrace - her murder remains unsolved.
Her mum Linda died in 2008 and her father Cliff passed away in September last year without seeing justice done.
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Claire, an only child, had been on her way to visit a friend when she was attacked between 6pm and 6.30pm - a time when many commuters were returning home.
Forensics officers are conducting a search
Officers prepare to search home in Dartford
Forensics officers at a home during a police search
The initial police inquiry racked up more than 16,000 pieces of paperwork but the identity of her killer was never uncovered.
Claire, a Dartford Grammar School pupil, had hoped to join the fire brigade and regularly visited her local fire station while completing her Duke of Edinburgh award.
Speaking earlier on Thursday, Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford, applauded the police for continuing the investigation.
The backbencher said he was re-assured to hear the fight to find Claire Tiltman’s killer continues.
He said: "Clearly the effort to secure justice for Claire continues.
"This is very much an active investigation and that should be welcomed."
According to the electoral roll, the people who live at the property are Aubrey and Diane Ash-Smith.
Neighbours said they still lived there but they hadn't seen them in the past day or so. Mr Ash-Smith did return to the property later in the day.
Mr and Mrs Ash-Smith are the parents of Colin Ash-Smith who was the main suspect at the time of Claire's death, but there was never any evidence to convict him.
The operation gets under way
High-profile police presence at the Dartford address
In 1996, Ash-Smith, who is in his forties, was given three life sentences for attacks including an attempted murder, attempted rape, grievous bodily harm and kidnap.
One was a 22-year-old woman who he stabbed and left for dead just yards from the alleyway where Claire was killed.
He was arrested soon after Claire’s death but his mother Diane Ash-Smith provided an alibi for him on the night and no charges were ever brought.
Lisa Gribbin, 35, was Claire’s best friend from school and took part in a candlelit walk for Claire on the 20th anniversary of her death earlier this year.
Nichola Medhurst, Philippa Fellows, Joanne Roberts, Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, Ch Supt Neil Jerome, Emma Edwards, Lisa Gribbin, and Vicki Atkins at the memorial service in front of photos of Claire, her parents Lin and Cliff and late Det Supt Owen Taylor.
She told KentOnline: "We miss our friend Tilt with every day that passes.
"Her murder is still as painful today as it was 20 years ago.
"Kent Police believe they can and will solve Claire's case and today's events serve to show just how active her case is.
"We would still ask for anyone who knows anything or can help in anyway to please come forward as your information could still lead to Justice for Claire.
"Personally, I am still in a state of shock with everything that has been unfolding today.
"My hopes are always and have always been high that whoever murdered Tilt will be bought to justice but I am also very aware that Linda and Cliff had they hopes dashed on many occasions.
"I miss her everyday and just want her killer caught and punished for what they've done. Whoever the guilty party is."
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