COLD-CASE detectives now believe that 23-year-old Sallyann John, who vanished almost 20 years ago, was murdered.

Sallyann, also known as Sally or Sal, of Kimmeridge Close, Nythe, was an active sex worker in the town at the time of her disappearance on the evening of 8 September 1995.

Despite a concerted national appeal lasting more than two months, she was never found, and her case has been left to lie on file until now.

A recent cold case review has brought forward a number of new lines of enquiry and evidence which has led detectives to the conclusion Sally was killed on, or shortly after, the night she was last seen.

A number of witnesses have placed Sally around the Broadgreen area before the final confirmed sighting, at 10.45pm around Aylesbury Street and Station Road.

Sally was wearing a short, pink, nightie style dress, a black jacket, black shoes, and black thigh-length socks, when she was last seen.

During the initial investigation, sex workers around Swindon were interviewed and Sally’s boyfriend, of Nythe, was spoken to.

Early indications suggested Sally may have left Swindon voluntarily, but a search of her flat showed she had not returned for a change of clothes or her mobile phone.

Det Insp Tim Corner, investigating officer with the Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Sallyann John went missing on Friday 8, September 1995, 19 years ago. At the time she was classed as a missing person, and there was quite a lengthy investigation.

“A missing persons investigation never closes and in this particular case Sally was never located. Periodically we review cases as part of our cold case review management.

“Twenty years is a long time for a person to be missing, and we are now working on the theory that Sally was murdered on, or shortly after 8 September 1995.

"We are now working on the movements taken by Sally that night or shortly afterwards.

“There were a number of sightings of her that evening, and she was last seen near to Station Road.

“In the police service the way we investigate and our methods bear no resemblance to 19 years ago.

"The changes in the way police investigate has prompted a review which has brought up a number of new lines of enquiry in relation to Sally’s disappearance.

“Those significant new lines of enquiry are being investigated and are now progressing.

"I would urge people to ring in if they had any contact at all with Sally on 8 September 1995 or the days leading up to it, or anybody with any information that can help us establish what happened.

“There is a considerable effort that has gone into this and there are a large number of staff involved.”

The fate of Sallyann is now the second active murder investigation in Swindon as detectives continue to pursue clues in Operation Manilla, which last week led them to a property in Nythe formerly owned by taxi-driver and convicted killer Christopher Halliwell.

“This investigation is in no way linked with any other murder enquiries and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the ongoing Operation Manilla because the two investigations are not connected,” added DI Corner.

“I spoke with Sallyann’s parents last night and informed them this is being reinvestigated, and they have welcomed it. They need closure for the disappearance of their daughter. There can be nothing worse than to lose a daughter under those circumstances.

“As part of this reinvestigation, Wiltshire Police will be revisiting witnesses and evidence from the original investigation.

“Someone, somewhere has vital information regarding Sally's disappearance and I urge them to make contact with us.

“I would also like to make it clear that we appreciate that people’s lives will have changed in the last 19 years and that relationships may now be different. I would like to reassure callers that any information received will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

Swindon commander Supt Andrew Carr said local teams will support the investigation.

“It is really important that detectives go back and look at cases for the benefit of victims and their families,” he said.

“We have a funded outreach worker so we are now able to engage better with sex workers to try to reduce the risk of them coming to harm. We will continue to investigate unsolved crimes and work with neighbourhood policing teams to reassure and protect those neighbourhoods.”

An old friend of Sallyann’s, who preferred not to be named at this point, has welcomed the news as question marks have hung over Sally’s last moments for almost two decades.

“She was a very nice girl, and it was a shame she got into the bad company she did,” he said. “She used to go to school with my sister and would come to our house all the time, and it was dreadful how things turned out for her.

“I have always been wondering what happened to her, just like everyone else has been. It is quite encouraging to hear they are looking back into this, and I just hope that something is found so that this can bring her family a bit of closure.”

Anyone with information, no matter how insignificant they might think it is, should contact Wiltshire Police on a dedicated phone number for this investigation 0800 056 0944 or if you wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.