POLICE investigating the macabre death of Stephen Prudhoe have admitted they believe the person responsible for his mutilation may strike again.
Detectives on the hunt for Mr Prudhoe's attacker made a series of startling revelations yesterday, shedding new light on the nature of his death and the current mindset of the assailant.
Describing the case as 'unique', Detective Chief Inspector Simon Price said he believed the person responsible wanted to be caught.
'What happened to Stephen is deeply disturbing, we have not yet identified the person responsible, and are appealing to the public to tell us what they know so we can find them quickly,' he said.
'I believe the person wants to be found. Whoever did this is likely to feel very shocked and frightened looking back on what they have done and knowing what they are capable of, police are worried that they may do something similar again unless they get the help they need.'
Residents are being urged to look close to home to help find the suspect.
'We want to hear from people who think they may know the person who might have done this to Stephen,' said DCI Price. 'We are appealing to anyone who may be worried about a friend or relative who was acting differently, maybe more anxious or worried around that time, who disappeared unusually or might have come home with blood-stained clothing, anyone who may have paid particular attention to this case or alternatively can't or won't talk about it.'
Officers have spent the last two days leafleting addresses close to Mr Prudhoe's home in a renewed appeal for information.
'The purpose of this exercise is to make a fresh appeal to the public and the offender,' said DS Andy Harris of Chester CID.
Posters have also been put up across the city bearing a fresh photograph of the victim, believed to be only five months old.
DS Harris stressed Mr Prudhoe's appearance had changed significantly since it was taken.
'He was a lot frailer than that when he died. He was thinner and very, very ill towards the time of his death. His hair was a lot longer,' he said.
Officers have been working closely with a psychologist, who cannot find a similar case to compare it to.
'We have spoken to a clinical psychologist who has seen nothing like this in Europe or the United States. They can help us have an understanding of the nature of the crime and that's why we know it's unique,' said DS Sue Thomas, who runs the force incident room.
Although DNA tests have been carried out, so far, they have yielded nothing. Yet DS Thomas says it will be at least another six weeks before all forensic results have come through.
As Mr Prudhoe had such a small circle of friends and was such a creature of habit, police have a strong suspicion that the person was known to him, or may have lived close by.
'Somebody in this area knows something. We are convinced of that,' said DS Thomas. 'We have just not got a clue what the motive was.'
She says whoever is responsible wants to let someone know what they have done.
'If somebody lives in the area and has done this, surely the next step is to tell someone, clear their conscience and get it off their chest,' she said.
Circumstances of death still unclear
THE circumstances of Stephen Prudhoe's death, on March 9 or 10 this year, remain a mystery to the police and the community.
He was found by a neighbour in his home in Blacon Point Road, where he had lived for seven years.
He died in his home in a lot of pain following a period of illness and, just after his death, someone cut his body using a sharp instrument to remove his genitals. These were not found in his home when his body was found.
Mr Prudhoe, 49, lived alone except for his dog Milo, who he would walk several times a day.
Enquiries with the National Crime Faculty searching for intelligence on similar cases in Britain and abroad have revealed no identical cases.
Mr Prudhoe was a quiet man with no apparent enemies. Police can find no evidence to suggest he had ever caused harm to anyone or in any way brought about what happened on himself. He was in very poor health with pneumonia and a heart attack had contributed to his death.
A post-mortem examination suggested Mr Prudhoe may not have had long to live because of his illness, and the harm to his body was carried out after death.
To jog the public's memory, in the days adjacent to Mr Prudhoe's death the news was dominated by the arrests of Leicester City footballers in Spain and the Madrid bombings.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Price said: 'This is a unique case. Stephen Prudhoe was well-known in his local community - indeed, it was his neighbours who raised the alarm when they realised his usual routine had not taken place.
'He kept himself to himself, with just a small group of friends, and does not appear to have had any obvious enemies, in addition to which, he was not known to the police and had no criminal convictions.
'It is tragic that he may have died a lonely death, but even more so that his death may have been triggered by another person.
'The manner in which his body was treated after his death is difficult to understand and disturbing to contemplate. We have found nothing in Stephen's private life to indicate any reason why someone should wish to cause harm to his body in this way.'
He added: 'I thank everybody who has assisted the investigation to date and I would urge any member of the community who may hold any clues to this case to come forward and make contact with police.
'I believe that the person wants to be found, if you have any information that might help us please make contact and help us to help Stephen rest in peace.' Anyone with any information which can assist the inquiry team is asked to call the police incident room on 01244 615522 or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.