Detectives are following up several leads following an appeal to find the killers of a Birmingham mother who was burnt alive on the steps of a church 15 years ago.
Days before Christmas 1994, Tracey Mertens was taken from her Nechells home by two men, blindfolded and driven to a church in Cheshire where she was doused in petrol and set alight.
Police have now been given a possible name for one of the killers and a motive for the horrific murder after an anonymous call was made following a TV appeal.
Detectives from Cheshire Police are following up the fresh lead following the appeal on BBC’s Crimewatch programme.
Det Chief Insp Paul Bailey, said: “Just before the programme finished at 10pm we had an individual call anonymously who gave us a name and a reason for why this murder occurred.
“We want that individual to call back.”
Detectives re-opened the investigation after advances in forensic technology gave them a DNA profile of the killer. A £30,000 reward has been offered for his conviction.
Police believe the killing was linked to the victim’s boyfriend, Joey Kavanagh, the father of their two children, Daniel, then 12 and Kelly, then 11.
At the time he was a drug addict and owed a substantial amount of money.
The family had moved from their Birmingham home to Rochdale in November 1994 but five weeks later on December 23, Tracey made a chance visit back to their former home in Cattells Grove, Nechells.
She is believed to have been at the house for less than ten minutes when her abductors pounced at about midday, asking “Where’s Joey?”, before forcing her in to a ‘scruffy’ yellow Mark II Ford Escort with one silver panel.
She was found with 95 per cent burns to her body almost five hours later in the graveyard of Christ Church in Eaton village near Congleton, Cheshire.
Despite her horrific injuries she managed to tell police some of what had happened. But in the early hours of Christmas Eve she died.
She described her abductors as two black men in their early 30s, both overweight and wearing brown leather caps and thigh-length leather jackets. They spoke with Birmingham accents but are also believed to have spoken Patois, a Jamaican dialect.
When officers later searched the family’s former Nechells home they found the word ‘death’ daubed on the window in white.
Detectives also revealed a further lead after another couple who owed money for drugs told how they received a call telling them if they didn’t pay they would “get what Tracey Mertens got”.
Tracey’s daughter, Kelly Kavanagh, now 26, said: “The happiest times of my life were with my mum and the memories I have got of her. I have been through so much and done so many things on my own when she should have been there.
“She deserves to be at peace, to be at rest, but I don’t think she ever will be until these people are caught.”
Det Chief Insp Bailey said: “I firmly believe there are people who know or have heard who attacked Tracey and why.
“Tracey was a loving mum to two young children, she personally had no enemies. And yet someone subjected her to the most painful of lingering deaths.
“The passage of time does not make Tracey’s death any less terrible. However, it may mean those who knew who killed Tracey and why, and could not come forward in 1994, may now feel able to pass that information on.”
He added that police also had better powers to protect witnesses living in fear of coming forward.
“It is never too late to bring a killer to justice,” he added.
Anybody with information can contact the incident room on 0845 458 0000 or the anonymous Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111.