A POSTCARD that has been kept in a police store for more than 20 years now holds the key to identifying the person who killed Sally Ann John.

It arrived in Swindon three weeks after the former sex worker disappeared from the town’s streets on September 8, 1995.

At first glance it appeared to have been sent by Sally Ann herself, from London, to a male friend back in Swindon — proof that she was safe and living in the capital.

But on Monday night, detectives went on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme to reveal that the handwriting on the postcard is not that of Sally Ann John.

Wiltshire Police have put up a £25,000 reward for information that either leads to the discovery of Sally Ann John’s body, or to the successful conviction of the person or persons responsible for her murder.

They believe that whoever wrote the postcard was either misled into doing so, coerced against their will, or that it may have been written by her killer.

Whoever wrote the card, they now hold the key to a murder that has left a family wondering if they may ever find out what happened on that night back in 1995.

Sally Ann was just 23 when she went missing. She was last seen at the Station Road junction with Aylesbury Street and Alexandra Road.

Her disappearance was initially treated as a missing person inquiry as there was nothing to suggest anything untoward had occurred.

But when detectives revisited the case as part of a review in 2013 they could find no evidence that she was still alive and a murder investigation was launched.

The following year, specialist forensics teams carried out a search of her former home, a flat in Kimmeridge Close, in Nythe.

Around that time, three men were arrested on suspicion of her kidnap and murder and later bailed. They have since been told that no further action will be taken against them.

Detective Sergeant Don Pocock, of the Brunel Major Crime Investigation Team, said there had been a positive response to the Crimewatch appeal and that eight calls had been received while the show was still on air.

He emphasised the vital clues that the new evidence, made public for the first time this week, could provide.

“The postcard arrived in Swindon some three weeks after Sally Ann John went missing,” he said.

“There are still forensic opportunities with the postcard that we’re exploring.

“We’ve had the handwriting analysed and the expert confirmed that it is not that of Sally Ann John.

“It’s crucially important to find out who wrote the postcard. I believe the person who wrote the card was either misled or coerced into writing it. Or equally it is the person responsible for her murder.”

The Crimewatch programme also broadcast a reconstruction of the night in question, showing an actress resembling Sally Ann John making her way through the narrow alleyways and streets in the Manchester Road area close to the station.

Swindon Advertiser:

  • Sally Ann John, who disappeared in 1995

“The last sighting was at 10.50pm in Alexandra Road just at the junction with Station Road,” said DS Pocock.

“We know from weather reports that it was raining quite heavily and we’re appealing for anyone who may have seen Sally Ann that night, or who subsequently has received information about where she now might be, to come forward.”

He urged potential witnesses not to be deterred by the length of time that has passed since her disappearance, even if they have had information for some time and not previously contacted the police.

“I would appeal to those individuals who may know something to please contact us.

“They may think that the piece of information they have is insignificant, too small, or even that it is so historic it won’t help us.

“I would appeal for them to come forward and let us be the judge of that.”

Swindon Advertiser:

  • The postcard which police believe may hold the key to solving Sally Ann John's murder. Picture: Thomas Kelsey

Anyone with information should call the force non-emergency line on 101.

Alternatively they can call Crimestoppers, where information can be left anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Information can also now be left online at crimestoppers-uk.org