Bridlington guest house murder: Hunt for wanted man set to go into second week

Worried families have voiced safety fears as the search for an on-the-run murder suspect goes into its second week - amid claims he could be armed with a hammer.

John Heald
John Heald

John Heald, aged 53, was captured on camera in B&M Bargains in Mexborough 24 hours after a Bridlington B&B owner was killed.

Police are investigating claims Heald bought a hammer and a pair of gloves in the shop.

Residents revealed their concerns for their safety as police officers unveiled a giant media screen at the Parkgate Retail Park, Rotherham, publicising a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the fugitive, who has been missing since Friday, July 18.

Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright offered another £5,000 reward for the information on top of the £5,000 already pledged by Crimestoppers.

Heald is wanted over the fatal stabbing of Bei Carter in her B&B where he was a guest last week.

Detectives also want to quiz him over a serious sexual assault in Sheffield earlier this month.

Childminder Kay Stretch, 38, from Treeton, said: “It is terrifying knowing that somebody wanted for such a serious offence hasn’t been seen for a week - he could be anywhere.

“Knowing he has been seen in Rotherham I haven’t taken the children out exploring like I normally would.

“I really hope the police track him down soon.”

Mum-of-two Michaela Fenton, from Whiston, said: “It is very unnerving knowing there is a murder suspect on the run.

“Just at the start of the school holidays when you should be able to let children run free in the garden and on walks their freedom has been taken.

“You try not to show you are scared but this is too close to home.”

Adele Tolley, a mum-of-two from Treeton, said: “It was very worrying when the police helicopter was circling above us the other night - the children were asking what was going on but we didn’t want to tell them and frighten them.

“It was so hot but we closed all the doors and widows and the next morning I was worried he might be in the children’s playhouse. It will be a relief when he is caught.”

Paul Hopkinson, 28, from Barnsley, who was shopping at Parkgate when the police media screen arrived, said: “You tend to rely on the police dealing with these kind of things pretty quickly and it doesn’t cause you too much concern but this is dragging on a bit and the fact the police have upped the reward suggests they may be struggling.”

Kevin Wilkinson, 54, from Scawthorpe, Doncaster, added: “It is worrying he is still on the loose when he is wanted over such a serious offence.

“I am confident the police will catch him because someone will see him and shop him.

“I would regardless of the reward - the police need to know where he is.”

Rotherham District Commander, Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, said police have received 250 calls reporting potential sightings of the suspect.

He urged anyone who may be harbouring him to give the suspect up.

“Just remember this individual is wanted on suspicion of murder,” he said.

He said extra police patrols would continue until search teams find Heald.

“We have lots of extra officers on patrol which will continue in the coming days until we locate John,” he added.

“Yes, he is wanted for serious offences but there is nothing to suggest at this stage he is going to commit further offences.”

He said police still believe Heald is still lying low in South Yorkshire but said officers are working with neighbouring police forces in case he has managed to slip the net.

Dave Hunter, Senior Regional Manager for Crimestoppers also commented: “As a local hotelier, Bei Carter was well-known throughout the Bridlington community, and it is truly a tragedy to have lost her to such a sickening act of violence.

“I urge anyone who has seen this man or has any information about his whereabouts to contact Crimestoppers immediately without the fear of their identity being revealed.

“No-one who provides information to Crimestoppers need ever be concerned about giving statements to police or having to go to court.”

Anyone who spots Heald should dial 999 immediately.