Appeal in relation to murder of seven-year-old girl - Reading

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Witness appeal
848 (26/4)

Thames Valley Police is appealing for information on the twentieth anniversary of the murder of a seven-year-old girl in Reading.

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Emily Salvini died from smoke inhalation when accelerant was poured near to the front door of her home in Hemdean Road on Saturday 3 May 1997.

Emily’s mother Katie, who was 30-years-old at the time, and brother Zach, who was three-years-old at the time, were in the house when the fire started but were rescued by the fire service.

They both needed weeks of treatment for burns at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury.

Before the fire started, someone cut the telephone lines at the family’s home which prevented Katie from calling the emergency services.

On the twentieth anniversary of his sister’s murder, Zach, aged 23, made this emotional appeal for anyone with any information to come forward: “Twenty years ago today on 3 May 1997, my sister Emily died in an arson attack. I was only three at the time when someone set my home on fire. It is my earliest and saddest memory.

“The person who did this has yet to be found and any information you may know could be greatly beneficial to my family and me. So I urge you to contact the police with any information, however big or small, you could have regarding my sister's death.”

To support this appeal, Thames Valley Police will be using the hashtag #JusticeForEmily and we would encourage the public and media to use the hashtag, read, share and comment on our appeal.

The head of the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Review Team, Peter Beirne, said: “Twenty years ago, in the early hours of Saturday the 3 May 1997, an arson attack took place in Hemdean Road, Caversham, Reading. This was the home of Katie Salvini and her two children, Emily who was seven and Zach who was three.

“The offender poured petrol into the hallway and set fire to it, causing an intense fire to rage through the house. Katie managed to get out of the house with Zach, by climbing onto the roof of a bay window beneath her bedroom, but she still received severe injuries and was in intensive care for about four weeks and in hospital for a total of six weeks afterwards. She was unable to get to where Emily was sleeping due to the intensity of the fire.

“Tragically, Emily died in the fire.

“At the same time the fire was started, the telephone wires on three telegraph poles in Hemdean Road were cut, meaning that no phones in the street worked and there was a delay in the emergency services being notified. It has to be remembered that mobile phones were not as common twenty years ago.

“It is difficult to comprehend why anyone would want to set fire to the home of a young family.

“Although a number of arrests were made at the time and the force appealed for information on various platforms, including Crimewatch, twenty years on, the offence remains undetected.

“I would like to use the anniversary of Emily’s death to appeal to anyone that may have any information that may assist us to please come forward. The person responsible will have had this horrific act on their conscience for two decades, and there has to be a possibility that they have confided in someone. Even if you think the information is insignificant please come forward so we can investigate.

“In the time that has passed allegiances may have changed or perhaps you couldn’t come forward at the time for whatever reason but now you can, please do the right thing and contact us either by calling 101, visiting your nearest police station or emailing and quoting reference 848 (26/4). Emily’s family need answers and need justice for Emily.

“If you do not want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.”

If you have any information relating to this case, please call 101 quoting reference '848 (26/4)', or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.

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