Date: 31 Oct 1996
Julie Smailes was bound up, strangled and stabbed 45 times at her home which was then set on fire.
She was found in her home which was on fire on Wingrove Terrace, Leadgate, near Consett by firefighters.
Her death was connected to the later death of Emma Kennedy who fell from Hownsgill Viaduct on 31 December 1999. Emma Kennedy's parents said that Emma Kennedy was thrown from the viaduct by the same people that murdered Julie Smailes in order to silence her. However, the police said that she had committed suicide.
In October 2011 a retired policeman said that Julie Smailes might have been murdered for money, noting that in the weeks before she died she had been given a substantial pay-out at her work, Sun Micro Systems in Greencroft. The retired detective said that she had received between £19,000 to £20,000 from shares that she had earlier bought in the firm.
Several people were suspected of being involved in her murder, and it was said that she had known one of them, living near to him, and it was added that she would have been a soft target to get some money from. He said however, that it was obvious that something went badly wrong and she died.
It was said that the fire at her home had been started to destroy any evidence that her killers might have left behind.
The retired detective said that he thought that as many as four people had been involved in her murder, with two of them actually killing her.
One of the men suspected of being involved in her murder was later found hanged in a wooded ravine not far from his home in Warwick Avenue, Moorside, Consett in August 1998 shortly after Rachel Tough was found dead at her home and it was suggested that there was no doubt that he had killed Rachel Tough before killing himself. It was heard that he had known her for years and had used to supply her with recreational drugs for when she went to raves. He was also described as a notorious and violent local criminal.
It was also said that some of the man's blood was later found in Julie Smailes's bedroom and suggested that if he had not killed himself then the Crown Prosecution Service would have had a realistic probability of convicting him of her murder.
The retired detective said that he thought that the man and another man had carried out the murder and that a third man had staged a burglary at the house and that a possible fourth man had kept look out.
In 2001 a man was charged with her murder but at the trial in January 2002 at Newcastle Crown Court the case was discontinued after the Crown Prosecution Service said that there was insufficient evidence to proceed to trial. After the trial was discontinued, the detective on it said that he and officers from the major crime team believed they had a clear picture of how Julie Smailes met her death and knew the identities of those involved, but added, 'Until witnesses are prepared to repeat the information they have given us to a jury, or laboratory tests turn up new scientific evidence, then I am afraid we have gone as far as we can for the moment'.
The retired detective said that he thought that local people knew who had killed Julie Smailes but were not talking and noted that one of the suspects was described as a nutter which added to the fear of speaking to the police. They said that fresh laboratory tests were being carried out on partial fingerprints found at the scene and tiny samples of blood that were also found there. The police noted that they had taken hundreds of samples of blood, fingerprints, bodily fluids, hair and human tissue from the house that could be tested or re-tested at a future time.
In October 2003 it was reported that advances in DNA technology could help solve the case.
Julie Smailes was a sales manager.
After her murder her mother moved to Ireland.