A new theory on the Jo Yeates murder has been thrown up after a suspicious car was reported by a couple who saw it driving up and down the lane on the morning after Yeates was killed, giving rise to the theory that her murderer may have returned to the spot where the body was dumped. In another possible breakthrough, saliva found on Yeates’ body may have belonged to her killer and detectives have taken a DNA sample.

The car was described a light-coloured 4×4 and it apparently drove several times up and down Longwood Lane in Bristol, where Yeates’ body was discovered on Christmas Day.

The couple were so suspicious of the car they called the police immediately, even though they were unaware that Jo Yeates was missing. Their 999 call was made 36 hours before Jo’s boyfriend Greg Reardon reported her missing, although the 25-year-old was, in fact, already dead.

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Police are now wondering if Jo’s murderer may have returned to the spot where her body was left, perhaps deciding whether to move it to another place.

Det Chief Inspector Phil Jones, who is leading the murder hunt, has said that Yeates’ killer may have tried to lift her over the quarry wall, but failed and left her on the roadside verge instead.

The morning after Yeates’ death the killer may have driven up and down looking for her body, which had been covered in snow.

It has also been revealed that the killer could have taken a route from Jo’s house to the place where her body was dumped without passing a single CCTV camera.

Police are examining 100 hours of CCTV footage from the most direct route between the landscape architect’s flat and Longwood Lane. However, a second route – only slightly longer – would avoid CCTV cameras altogether, meaning that the killer may not be tracked in this way.

A police spokesperson said: “We believe that the killer would have most likely gone over the suspension bridge where there are lots of cameras.

“However, if they didn’t, there are routes through Clifton Wood that are residential and don’t have any CCTV.”

Yesterday Yeates’ flat was searched by a forensic team who said they have uncovered a vital piece of evidence but have not revealed what it is.