True Crime

32-year cold case – The killer who was caught by his daughter’s DNA

After years, Melanie's family finally got justice for their girl
Christopher Hampton murdered Melanie Road

Melanie was stabbed 26 times, but the monster responsible evaded capture for three decades….

It was a warm June evening in 1984 and Melanie Road wanted to let her hair down.

The happy, outgoing and sociable 17-year-old had been studying hard for her exams, and a night out with her boyfriend and friends was just what she needed to blow off some steam.

Melanie dressed in smart navy trousers and a black cardigan, before heading to a club to dance the night away.

Around 1.30am, Melanie left, telling a friend she didn’t want to get a taxi, preferring to walk the short distance home by herself.

But she never made it.

At 5.30am, a local milkman and his horrified 10-year-old son discovered her mutilated body behind some garages, metres away from her house.

Stabbed 26 times, Melanie was lying in a pool of blood.

Her attacker had stripped her, subjected her to a brutal sexual assault, then put her clothes back on.

With nothing to identify her besides a keyring with ‘Melanie’ on it, police officers walked up and down the streets, calling her name into a loud hailer.

Her parents – Jean and Anthony – who had woken up to find their daughter hadn’t spent the night in her bed – heard the cries and rushed outside to find out what was going on.

And that is how they learned the devastating news that their daughter had been brutally murdered.

Police launched an investigation, taking samples of semen and blood from the scene.

One particular trail of blood, leading away from
the body, didn’t belong to Melanie, and was likely from her killer.

A blood type was established and 94 possible suspects were arrested.

None were charged.

Years passed – with no answers and no closure for Melanie’s family.

By 1995, DNA had become a regular part of police work, so a profile of Melanie’s killer was created and put on the national database.

Newspaper article about Melanie Road's death

Still, there was no match.

Then, in May 2015 – 31 years after the murder – cold case detectives began to reinvestigate the crime.

Again, they ran the killer’s DNA through the database – and this time they found something significant.

The sample was a very close familial match with another sample on file – that of a woman named Clare Hampton, 44.

Her DNA had been taken after she had an argument with her partner and broke his necklace.

Police interviewed Clare and she revealed that her father, Christopher Hampton, was from the area where Melanie had been killed.

She gave officers his phone number and they paid him a visit.

Hampton voluntarily provided them with a DNA sample.

The sample was sent to the lab to be tested and a month later, the results came back.

Christopher John Hampton was a match for the DNA found on Melanie’s body.

He was arrested and charged with her murder that day.

Appearing in court in May 2016, Hampton, 64, pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea on day one of the trial.

Melanie Road and friend
Melanie with a friend a few months before her death
Police forensic tent near where Melanie's body was found
(Credit: Avon and Somerset Police)

Jailing him for life with a minimum term of 22 years, Justice Popplewell said Hampton would very likely die in prison.

‘Only you know precisely how you approached her and carried out your attack, but certain things are plain from
the evidence,’ he said.

‘It was a lengthy and brutal attack for your own sexual gratification. She was repeatedly stabbed, 26 times in all.’

Hampton had been living with a girlfriend at the time of the murder, having split from his first wife with whom he had three children – including Clare.

Five years after Melanie’s murder, he had married his second wife, had another daughter, and moved to another city where he kept to himself, working as a painter and decorator.

Melanie’s mum Jean, sister Karen and brother Adrian, were all in court to see Hampton admit to the killing, which they said had haunted their lives for the past 32 years.

Suffering with dementia that the family said was hastened by losing his daughter, Melanie’s dad Anthony was too unwell
to attend.

Melanie Road
Melanie was outgoing and sociable

In her victim impact statement, Melanie’s sister Karen said, ‘I have had 32 years to fill in the gaps. Melanie has died hundreds of times in hundreds of different ways in my mind, when I am awake, when I am asleep.

‘I could tell you it is like being in a nightmare but you wake from a nightmare and life returns to normal. This is a nightmare you can’t wake up from. Melanie’s death has consumed my life.

‘For 32 years I have felt as if I am living in a horror film.’

Jean told a local newspaper she had not expected to live to see her daughter Melanie’s murderer brought to justice.

In her statement made in 2016, Jean said, ‘When will the pain stop? The horror of that sunny day in June will never leave us.

‘I was 49 years old in 1984 when all this happened.

‘Now in my 81st year I pray that the family will find some peace.’ ●

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