Messages on social networking sites are increasingly hampering major police investigations, a senior detective has warned.
The comment came from Detective Chief Inspector Jes Fry from Norfolk Police after Michael Tucker, 50, was jailed for 26 years at Norwich Crown Court for murdering his partner Rebecca Thorpe, 28, and hiding her body in a freezer.
During the police investigation there was widespread speculation on Twitter about the circumstances of the killing – including incorrect speculation that Thorpe was decapitated.
Fry said the “complex” investigation was complicated by the use of social media.
Officers were not Luddites and he regularly used networking sites himself, he said.
But he added: “I would just urge members of the public to exercise caution when talking about a major crime like this. It is the same as gossip down the pub except amplified by thousands of times.
“This kind of misinformation made it difficult to establish whether potential witnesses had read details somewhere or knew them as fact. It also led to rumours which increased the concerns of the local community.
“I have come across social media being used in this way in the past, but this is the first time it has had such serious implications for our investigations.
“I understand that it is human nature to discuss these things online. I would just ask that people think twice about what they actually know and what is speculation.”
Tucker shot Thorpe after an argument at their home in Snettisham in March last year.