Police have launched a new murder hunt for a killer who stabbed and raped a housewife more than 20 years ago.

A team of detectives have been assembled at Brighton police station to "review" the murder of Margaret Frame, a 34-year-old mother.

Senior officers involved in the inquiry, Operation Harbour, have been blowing the dust from the case file for the past two months.

They are being tight-lipped about any breakthrough, but Detective Superintendent Peter Kennett, in charge of the case, said: "We have brought in a number of officers to re-examine every aspect of this dreadful crime.

"Files such as these are never closed and we will be doing all we can to bring the person behind this crime to justice."

Mrs Frame vanished on October 12, 1978, as she made her way through Stanmer Park towards her home in Saunders Hill, Coldean.

She had just left nearby Falmer Comprehensive School where she worked as a cleaner.

As she hurried through the dark wood, she was attacked from behind. She was struck over the head and stabbed in the back, a thick-bladed knife ripping through the back of her suede jacket, penetrating her rib cage and slicing into her heart.

The killer raped her and left her for dead, but returned to the scene later.

He stripped Mrs Frame and dragged her naked body 500 yards before burying her, face down, in a shallow grave and covering the spot with bracken and branches.

All her rings were removed and an attempt was made to sever her head, acts, police believe, were designed to try and conceal her identity.

She was found by police searchers ten days after she disappeared.

Detectives working on the case at the time believed the murderer was likely to be a local man, but no one was ever charged.

He may have watched police searching areas of Stanmer Park woods and when he was sure one spot had been checked, moved the body there in the hope police would not cover the same ground again.

But he did not take into account a flash of inspiration from Det Con Harry Woods who decided to search well away from the the main area.

He walked to the end of a field and picked his way through heavy undergrowth before discovering a crude mound of earth that formed Mrs Frame's makeshift grave.

He went to touch the mound and instead of earth, felt cold flesh.

A shoulder was poking out.

The victim's husband Peter, who had joined the search for his wife, and their son Andrew, who was just nine when his mother died, were devastated.

Mr Frame, a coach operator at the time, said then: "People should know there is a maniac out there."

He had to break the news to his son: "I could not face him for an hour after I came back from the police station.

"Finally, I grabbed him and said 'Your mum is dead.' He screamed and cried at first, but a nine-year-old has a chance to get over it."

Mr Frame, a one-time taxi driver in Brighton, said at the time he felt he would be considered a suspect but insisted: "I know I did not do it. I did not know anything about it until the police came to the door and told me. I was shattered."

He praised people who offered him sympathy and help: "Neighbours in the Saunders Hill and Hawkhurst Road are the greatest in the world."

He has never given up hope the killer will be found. Neither have Sussex Police.

Mr Kennett, reluctant to go into details about the new inquiry, appealed to anyone with information about the case to contact the Operation Harbour team on a dedicated number 01273 665538, or 0845 6070999.