Date published: 05 January 2010
Tracey Mertens was burned alive in 1994
Detectives are following up new leads after a television appeal over the murder of a Rochdale mother 15 years ago.
Cheshire Police are following up 100 new pieces of information following an appeal on Crimewatch to find out what happened to Tracy Mertens in 1994.
A police reward of £30,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Ms Mertens' killers remains unclaimed.
On 23 December 1994 Ms Mertens kissed her two children goodbye and set off from her home in Rochdale on an overnight visit to Birmingham. She never came back.
While in Birmingham, Ms Mertens was kidnapped, driven to Cheshire, doused in petrol and set alight. She died on Christmas Eve.
Ms Mertens was 31 years of age, and the mother of two young children, Daniel aged 12, and Kelly aged 11. She lived with the children’s father, her partner, Joey Kavanagh.
This was to be the first Christmas in the family’s new home in Rochdale. They had moved suddenly from their previous home in the Nechells area of Birmingham five weeks earlier.
Ms Mertens had been so badly burned that the man who found her thought she was wearing a costume.
Before she died Ms Mertens described her abductors as male, black, aged around 30 years, big and fat in build, with Birmingham accents.
Despite 95% body burns, Ms Mertens survived some 12 hours, passing away in the early hours of Christmas Eve.
The officer leading the enquiry, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Bailey, of the Cheshire Constabulary Major Investigation Team, appeared on Crimewatch. He said: “I firmly believe that there are people who knew in 1994 what had happened to Tracey, why she had been targeted, and who lay behind it. It may be that in 1994 you felt unable to come forward and contact police.
“Today, the law provides us with many means and measures to support those who provide valuable information in criminal enquiries – measures that were not necessarily available to police forces in 1994. If you know something, you can feel confident in coming forward.”
Information can be offered directly to the Operation Eaton Incident Room on 0845 458 0000. Alternatively, information can be left anonymously on the Crimestoppers hotline 0800 555 111.