IT is the missing piece of the jigsaw that will never be found.
What happened to precious items of jewellery belonging to Teresa De Simone will never be known despite a huge effort to find them 30 years after her murder.
Specialist search teams last night completed their trawl through undergrowth alongside a Hampshire railway line, having been unable to find any of the seven items stolen from the 22-year-old on the night she was brutally raped and strangled.
Hopes of recovering Teresa’s delicate cross and chain, her necklace bearing her name, three rings, a bracelet and her keys had always been unlikely.
But detectives leading the reinvestigation into her murder had wanted to ensure every attempt had been made to find them, with the slimmest hope of being able to return them to her parents.
A team of six British Transport Police officers, who are specially trained for criminal and terrorist searches, have spent two days scouring the embankment alongside the live tracks at Copnor Bridge in Portsmouth.
Wearing protective clothing and using a range of gardening equipment they searched a 25-metre stretch of land, digging several inches below the surface – but their efforts proved fruitless.
It brings an end to the reinvestigation, launched in March this year following the acquittal of Sean Hodgson – the man wrongly jailed for 27 years for the murder of Teresa.
In August, a new prime suspect was declared and the body of David Lace was exhumed from a Portsmouth cemetery for extensive forensic tests which later proved he killed Teresa when he was 17 years old.
Lace had confessed to police when he was held over other offences in 1983, but police did not believe his story. During those admissions he had detailed Copnor Bridge as the place he dumped Teresa’s belongings.
Detective chief inspector Phil McTavish, who led the enquiry, said: “It is recognised that in the years since Teresa’s murder there has been a lot of disturbance and redevelopment around the railway track, but there was still a possibility that items may have lay undisturbed.
“Although we have not been able to recover any items linked to either Teresa or the suspect it was important we did everything to explore this final aspect of the case.”