POLICE may be on the brink of finding proof a brutal murder, which has baffled detectives for more than half a century, was committed by a convicted Gwent killer.

Officers have told historian Neil Milkins, who lives in Abertillery, that DNA evidence may be about to prove his theory that Harold Jones murdered a 12-year-old schoolgirl in 1946.

Jones, who died in 1971, was jailed for murdering eight-year-old Freda Burnell and 11-year-old Florence Irene Little in Abertillery in 1921.

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The two murders, which rocked the town's community, formed the basis of Mr Milkins' book, Every Mother's Nightmare: Abertillery in Mourning.

South Wales Argus: Historian Neil Milkins. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.ukHistorian Neil Milkins. Picture: www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

While Mr Milkins investigated Jones, he was contacted by a relative of Florence who said they believed Jones had also murdered Muriel Drinkwater, in Swansea, after his release from prison. Muriel's murderer was never convicted.

Mr Milkins said he undertook “thousands of hours in research” in the claims and, coming to the same conclusion, contacted South Wales Police with his evidence 12 years ago this week.

And he has now been told he should have a definitive answer on the case within the next fortnight.

Mr Milkins said: “The police are analysing DNA from Muriel’s coat.

“The detective said that ‘the timescales to complete this comparison were unknown but hoped to have an answer in the next four-to-six weeks’ – and that was some weeks ago.

“We will soon know whether Jones was really the murderer. That is the last piece of the jigsaw now.”

A South Wales Police spokeswoman said: “All historic murder cases, often referred to in the media as ‘cold cases,’ are allocated to the Specialist Crime Review Unit and remain under active consideration and will be subject of re-investigation as and when new information is received or when there are advances in forensic science.

“Each case is reviewed periodically. If information comes in from the public or other forces we act on it.”

Mr Milkins said: “Jones left the army in 1946 and within three months this murder happened.

“Whoever murdered Muriel was never caught.

“Twelve years ago I had a visit from a relative of Florence Little, who Jones had previously murdered in Abertillery.

“The relative believed Harold Jones had also gone on to kill Muriel.

“When I looked into it further I, too, believed he was the murderer.

“There were many similarities with the murder of Muriel with other murders by Jones.”

Jones died from cancer in 1971. He is buried in Hammersmith, West London.