THEY have spent nearly three decades believing their daughter’s killer was behind bars. Murdered Teresa De Simone’s elderly mother Mary Sedotti, 77, and stepfather Michael now do not even have the comfort of having seen justice for their daughter.
This week it emerged that Robert Hodgson, who was jailed for murdering Teresa outside the Tom Tackle pub 27 years ago, could be released from prison within days following new DNA evidence.
Hodgson, also known as Sean, was convicted by a Winchester Crown Court jury of murdering 22-year-old Teresa, who was raped and strangled to death with her gold crucifix chain in the early hours of December 5, 1979.
Her half-naked body was found in her Ford Escort, parked in the car port behind the Commercial Road pub.
A year after her killing, Hodgson confessed to her murder to a priest while in prison on theft charges. But during his trial he said he was a “pathological liar” and pleaded not guilty.
Last year Hodgson’s lawyer requested a case review, which was carried out by Hampshire police and the Forensic Science Service and included new DNA tests.
It is understood DNA evidence found at the scene and held in police files did not match a sample given by Hodgson, now 58.
Prosecutors are not expected to challenge his release at the Court of Appeal hearing on Wednesday.
As Hampshire police reopen their case, the greatest hope of tracking Teresa’s killer – if he is still alive – will be a match through a DNA test.
Detectives will also have to revisit aspects of the original case for clues that could lead to Teresa’s killer and finally give her parents the justice they deserve.
In the same month as Teresa’s killing, December 1979, police received two anonymous letters.
They kept tight-lipped about the contents, only saying they contained “certain information”, and appealed for whoever wrote them to come forward. However, their appeal was met with a wall of silence and whoever penned the letters never came forward.
During the court case it emerged that these letters, posted on December 12 and December 27 in Southampton, had given police false information about where they should look for the killer. Do these letters still exist and should the police revisit their contents? If so, will police make them public to see if anyone recognises the handwriting or a distinctive turn of phrase?
Jenni Savage, front, and WPc Lynda Winning, playing the part of Teresa De Simone, leave the Tom Tackle by a back staircase during a reconstruction of the murdered 22-year-old’s last known movements. Teresa’s Ford Escort, where her body was found, can be seen in the pub’s car port.
THE SOBBING MAN
In January 1980, police appealed for help tracing a mystery sobbing man, who was seen at about 2am crying and trying to vomit just yards from where Teresa’s body was found. A police description described him as aged between 25 and 30, 5ft 9in, of medium build, with dark hair and wearing a dark jacket and trousers. Who was that person? Does he still live in the area? Why did he never respond to witness appeals?
THE BLOODSTAINED MAN
Who was the bloodstained man who went into Threshers in Lodge Road, Portswood, to buy alcohol at around the time of Teresa’s murder?
At Hodgson’s trial, shop manager Hilde Hutchings said: “He seemed agitated, aware of where he was. He knew what he wanted, and that was a bottle of drink. He had blood on his hair and his hands were shaking. He had grazed knuckles and his nails were not very clean.”
She said he was about 30 and spoke with a north country accent. Who was this man and where is he now?
THE EIGHT MYSTERY MEN
Was Teresa’s killer among the eight mystery men, seen in the Tom Tackle area of Commercial Road, on the night of her murder who were never found?
Some were in cars, some were walking, some had taken a taxi – but none were ever traced or responded to witness appeals.
Any one of them could have been involved in Teresa’s killing or hold the vital clue to the murderer’s identity – where he hid before the murder, where he went afterwards and what he did with her jewellery.
Mystery man #1: Seen in a light car at 12.30am on December 5, 1979, parked at the rear of the Tom Tackle – just yards from Teresa’s Ford Escort.
Mystery Man #2: Seen “acting suspiciously” for about ten minutes in darkness by the Gaumont Theatre (now The Mayflower) entrance, within 50 yards of the murder scene, at about 1am on December 5. He was in his early 20s, 5ft 10in, thin with a slight stoop, with dark, straight, shoulder-length hair and a dark complexion.
Mystery Man #3: Seen in Commercial Road at about midnight and again ten minutes later, this time carrying a small attache case or woman’s weekend case, heading past the Gaumont Theatre from the Tom Tackle direction. He was aged about 30, 5ft 10in, medium build, dark hair, wearing a grey flecked knee-length coat.
Mystery Man #4: Seen at about 4.15am on December 5 driving “at very fast speed” from Blechynden Terrace, left into Commercial Road, heading towards Four Post Hill. Witnesses said the driver was “low in the driving seat of the car”.
Mystery Men #5 and #6: Two youths were seen running from the direction of the murder scene after what eyewitnesses described as “a noise and some brief shouting” at about the time of Teresa’s death. Earlier in the evening they had been turned away from Friday’s Discotheque because of their dress.
Mystery Men #7 and #8: Two men flagged a taxi down in Blechynden Terrace at about 1.15am on December 5 and asked to be taken to Millbrook.