‘I’ll never stop missing my Jo’
Tuesday 08 November 2011
The full horror of Jo Yeates’ shocking murder came to light last month when her vile killer Vincent Tabak was put on trial.
Jo’s heartbroken mum Teresa, dad David, brother Chris and boyfriend Greg Reardon watched in anguish as Dutch Tabak cried in the dock, denying murdering the landscape architect at her Bristol flat last December.
But the prosecution tore apart his claims that he strangled Jo, 25, by accident – arguing it was a calculated murder driven by sex.
Tabak, a 33-year-old architect, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Now, devastated Teresa, 58, is trying to focus on remembering how happy her daughter had been before her horrifying death.
She tells Closer: “Jo was the happiest she’d ever been in her life. We will never know for sure what would have happened, but we all feel her boyfriend Greg was The One. Jo felt that too. They had that one true love that you feel will never ever go away.”
She adds: “I’ll never stop missing my beautiful Jo.”
Greg had been away visiting family when Jo went missing on 17 December. She’d returned alone to the flat they shared in Clifton, Bristol, after Christmas drinks with work colleagues.
The court heard how Tabak, who lived next door, called on her after they made eye contact through their kitchen windows.
He claimed he was enticed to kiss Jo by what he claimed was her “flirty” behaviour. When she screamed, he insisted he accidentally strangled her trying to silence her.
But his story was deemed false by the jury, who ruled the attack was a cold-blooded, sexually motivated murder – a verdict backed by evidence since released, which shows Tabak’s preoccupation with violent internet porn and strangulation.
When Greg returned to find Jo missing on 19 December, he raised the alarm and a huge police search followed – with Tabak laying low and researching definitions of murder, sexual assault and manslaughter online. He even tried to find out how long it takes a body to decompose.
Jo’s snow-covered body was finally found by dog walkers on Christmas Day and she had a sock missing – which it’s believed was taken by Tabak as a trophy. Her body had 43 separate injuries.Tabak was arrested on 20 January.
Since Jo’s death, her family have tried to regain some sense of normality. Her brother Chris, 28, married four months ago, but Jo’s absence was overwhelming.
Teresa, a supermarket assistant, says: “It was a quiet, low-key wedding. During his speech, Chris said he’d always remember Jo and wished she could be there. Jo would probably have been a bridesmaid. She’d have loved it. It was a happy occasion, but also poignant because Jo was in our thoughts.”
Seeing her son move on made Teresa painfully aware of what Jo’s lost. She says: “Jo’s missed out on her dream of getting married, having children and designing a lovely family home.”
She adds: “But Greg has a new life ahead of him and must try to move forwards.”
Teresa’s next ordeal is to clear out Jo’s flat – which is still decorated for the Christmas she was never able to celebrate. Teresa says: “I’m dreading going to the flat – it was once full of love and laughter but is now where my daughter lost her life so violently.
“But it’s something a mum has to do and I will. I don’t want anyone else to. It’s a sinister place now, not Jo’s home.”
By Emily Retter & Tracey Kandohla
A MEMORIAL garden in tribute of Jo Yeates is being planned near her family home. It will take pride of place in a meadow overlooking a lake in the county-council owned Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum in Ampfield, Hants.
The garden, inspired by landscape architect Jo’s butterfly project while she worked there in her gap year, will feature a bench in the shape of a butterfly wing and a maple tree surrounded by shrubs and wild flowers. It is being designed by the Landscape Institute South East Branch and has been warmly welcomed by Jo’s parents.
Teresa says: “It will be a beautiful garden of remembrance and a very fitting tribute to Jo.” Phil Deacon of Southampton-based landscape architects Influence, who is leading the project, says: “We hope this will bring a bit of joy to Jo’s parents, to know that people are still thinking of them and their daughter.
“We hope the garden will open next spring. We are now at the commissioning stage.”
Nearly half of the £20,000 to pay for the landscaping and upkeep has so far been raised.
To sponsor the Jo Yeates Memorial Garden, visit mydonate.bt.com/charities/ joyeatesmemorialgardenfund.