The life of Jodi Jones was cut cruelly short in 2003 by a murderer police believed was her boyfriend Luke Mitchell but is he innocent and is the real killer dead?
New Channel 5 documentary Murder in a Small Town investigates whether Luke is really guilty or if an innocent child was wronged by the criminal justice system.
Here’s everything you need to know…
Jodi Jones murder: the crime scene
The murder of teenage schoolgirl Jodi Jones in 2003 sent shockwaves throughout Scotland.
A search party found her dead body in woodland near her hometown on the outskirts of Dalkeith near Edinburgh.
Someone had beaten Jodi, pulling her hair out by the roots.
They’d strangled Jodi and cut her throat between 12 and 20 times – virtually decapitating her.
Police describe it as “one of the most violent crimes in a generation”, and the murder scene was called “a blood bath”.
Prime suspect: Luke Mitchell
Police made Luke Mitchell – Jodi’s boyfriend of five months – the prime suspect.
Critics described him as a “Satan-worshipping, scary, gothic character” who stored jars of urine in his room.
Luke says he was targeted because he “was the local weirdo” who liked Marilyn Manson music.
Where is Luke Mitchell now?
Luke is in jail, after being convicted of Jodi’s murder and sentenced to a minimum of 20 years.
He has spent the last 17 years in prison.
Luke tells his story for the first time in Murder in a Small Town on Channel 5.
He is nearly 32 years of age.
Luke Mitchell in his own words
Luke says: “I’ve been locked up for a crime I did not commit.
“I cannot be more clear, I absolutely did not kill Jodi. I want to clear my name.”
He adds: “I’ve not spoken out in all this time, because when I have tried, I’ve been shouted down and called evil and manipulative and twisted.”
Luke Mitchell proof
The police suspected Luke from the very first night after he “led” the search party to Jodi’s body.
Eyewitness accounts also link Luke to the scene.
Police accused his mum Corrine of providing a false alibi to protect Luke on the night of Jodi’s murder, but all charges were later dropped.
There is NO forensic evidence linking Luke to the murder of Jodi Jones.
Proof against Luke Mitchell: Is he innocent?
Luke’s conviction is now being questioned, 17 years later.
Criminal defence lawyer John Scott QC says: “Despite extensive investigation, there is no forensic evidence linking Luke Mitchell to the crime.”
Sara Gomes, a forensic scientist at The Forensic Institute, says: “Innocent or guilty, there is something wrong with this conviction.”
Professor Allan Jamieson, Head of the Forensic Institute, adds: “The evidence is insufficient to say that Luke Mitchell committed the crime beyond reasonable doubt.”
In the first episode of two part series Murder in a Small Town, investigators uncover shocking details of other male DNA found at the crime scene.
There is also some disturbing new information about a third local male from a witness living in the area at the time.
Luke Mitchell denies murdering Jodi, and the prosecution’s case against him was entirely circumstantial.
Private investigator John Sallens explains: “You would think, considering the brutality of the murder, that there would be some forensic evidence.”
He reveals that the murderer would have had blood on him and some defensive injuries.
“Jodie put up a fight,” he says. “There’s every likelihood the attacker would have scratches.”
If Luke had admitted guilt, his life sentence would have been reduced, but he remains adamant that he did not do it.
If Luke is innocent, who did kill Jodi Jones?
Police removed more than one hundred pieces of evidence from the scene, including clothing, blood, saliva and semen – none linked to Luke.
There was male DNA at the scene and on the body, but it wasn’t Luke’s.
Police found DNA on Jodi’s T’shirt from Stephen Kelly – Jodi’s sister’s boyfriend.
This implicated Stephen more than Luke – so why didn’t they arrest him?
The explanation given in court was that Jodi had borrowed her sister’s T’shirt that night.
Another male profile was found from a second male in a used condom close to Jodi’s body.
The semen in the condom was said to be fresh, but the DNA match was not found for another three years.
His DNA was put through the police database in relation to another incident.
Investigators John Sallens and Michael Neil found another person of interest to the crime who “turned up with scratches on his face” the day after the murder.
Mark Kane was an alleged drug user studying at Newbattle Abbey College in Dalkeith, who was “untraceable” during the murder hunt.
He bares a striking resemblance to Luke, and lived very close to the murder site.
He’s described as “a very, very disturbed boy who carried a knife” and was on methadone at the time, as well as cannabis and lager.
Mark says he obtained the scratches by “falling in a bush”.
Mark died last year.
Luke Mitchell proof: Was Luke framed by police?
Pre-trial, Luke was in the papers daily and had been named despite being a minor.
Luke’s mum says: “Why did everyone think Luke did it? Because the police told the press, and the press told the public.”
Some 10 months later, Luke was convicted of the crime – but did he really kill his girlfriend Jodi Jones?
Or were the police under pressure from a terrorised town to find a killer?
Murder in a Small Town strongly implies that police investigators at the time focused only on Luke and ignored all other evidence.
Luke was the only member of the search party who was forensically examined on the night of the murder.
All four of the search party should have been treated the same.
Luke himself explains: “From the very first moment, I was the only one treated as a suspect.
“I was treated differently to the rest of the search party.”
Luke’s statement always maintained that his dog Mia had sniffed out the body, something which all the search party agreed with during questioning.
But everyone’s statements later changed, except Luke’s…
The first part of Murder in a Small Town airs on Wednesday February 24 2021 at 9pm on Channel 5, and continues the next day.
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