It was December 2010 and the holiday season was in full swing.
There was snow on the ground in Bristol in the UK and with Christmas approaching, 25-year-old Jo Yeates was excited about spending time with her boyfriend, Greg Reardon, and her parents, David and Theresa.
Jo and Greg had met at the landscape architecture firm where they both worked and had recently moved in together.
On December 17, Jo and her colleagues finished work for the day and piled into a nearby pub for festive drinks. Greg had gone away for the weekend to visit his brother and Jo told her friends she planned to spend her time baking cakes for a party they were throwing the following Tuesday.
At around 8pm, Jo left the pub and went to a nearby supermarket where she purchased a pizza and two bottles of cider. Then she set off on the 20 minute walk back to her flat.
On 19 December, Greg returned from his trip. Upon entering the house, he found a half drunk bottle of cider on the table beside Jo’s handbag, glasses and keys. His girlfriend was nowhere to be found.
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When he called her mobile, and heard it ringing in the pocket of her jacket, he knew instinctively something was very wrong.
He called the police and reported Jo missing. Then he phoned her parents.
The disappearance was completely out of character.
“She’s a vivacious, sensible, professional lady, and there seems to be no obvious reason at all as to why she’s gone missing,” a detective said in a press conference.
They began to retrace Jo’s last known movements. After she bought her pizza, Jo called her best friend Rebecca Scott, arranging to meet her on Christmas Eve. The police knew Jo had made it home because her belongings – and the receipt for the pizza were found inside the flat.
The pizza – and its packaging, however, were missing.
If she’d eaten it, the box would be in the flat. But if she hadn’t eaten it, then where was it? It didn’t make any sense and detectives were flummoxed.
On December 22, Greg Reardon made an emotional plea for Jo to come home. “I desperately want her back,” he said, according to the Evening Standard.
“She was my future. This Christmas was going to be our first together. I was going to spend it with her family, which is always a big deal for a boyfriend. We were both really happy in our jobs – we worked together and that’s how we met.”
But Jo did not come home. On Christmas morning, her frozen body was discovered 5km away from her home by a family out walking. Her pink top and bra had been hiked up, exposing her breasts. An autopsy later showed she had been bashed and strangled; the 43 separate injuries on her body were evidence of a very violent struggle.