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Share via Email When friends of Michelle Bettles heard she had died last week, they believed her heroin addiction had finally killed her. But someone had put their bare hands around the neck of the year-old mother of three and squeezed the life out of her, dumping her body in dense woodland. The death of Bettles, who had funded her habit by working as a prostitute on the streets of Norwich virtually all her adult life, has sent shockwaves through 'the block' - the name given to the streets around Rouen Road that form the city's infamous red-light district.
She was the fourth prostitute to be murdered or go missing from Norwich in the past decade, and all those who remain fear they will be next.
Since her murder, the number working the block has plummeted, but according to Janet, a year veteran, they will soon be back. They stay at home for a few days, but they still need to buy food or drugs or pay their pimps. They all end up coming back. The danger is just part of the territory. I used to carry a knife so that I had some protection, but when I got arrested by the police I'd get charged with having an offensive weapon.
You don't feel safe knowing that some one is killing the girls, but most of us don't have any choice. Two years ago in June, Kellie Pratt, a year-old prostitute, vanished from the red-light district. She has not been seen since and is presumed dead.
In , year-old Natalie Perman was strangled by a man she picked up from 'the block'. Her body was dumped five miles away. Yet another prostitute, mother of two Mandy Duncan, 26, vanished without trace in July while working in the red-light area around Portman Road in nearby Ipswich, Suffolk. Although police are not yet officially linking any of the murders, they know only too well that several suspected serial killers are on the loose in Britain and that prostitutes are often their favoured target.