Woman found dead at National Trust reserve at centre of murder investigation

Sarah Lumley
·2 min read
Forensics investigating at the scene in Watlington Hill  - Steve Parsons/PA
Forensics investigating at the scene in Watlington Hill - Steve Parsons/PA

A woman found dead at a National Trust reserve was at the centre of a murder investigation, as residents claimed the suspect was found bleeding inside a village home less than an hour before she was discovered.

The victim, a woman in her 60s, was discovered in woodland at Watlington Hill, Oxfordshire, just before 6pm on Friday.

On Saturday, Thames Valley detectives confirmed a murder investigation has been launched.

A 23-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder was taken to hospital, where he remained last night receiving treatment for "serious injuries".

The cause and nature of the man's injuries were not disclosed. Police said they believed the attack was not random, adding the victim and attacker knew each other.

Police appealed for witnesses who saw anything suspicious in Watlington Hill area around 5.50pm, adding it was "tentatively linking" the murder to reports of a man "acting suspiciously" near the Fox and Hounds pub at 3.30pm.

Police have cordons in place - Steve Parsons/PA
Police have cordons in place - Steve Parsons/PA

It comes as neighbours in Christmas Common, a hamlet less than half-a-mile from Watlington Hill, claimed yesterday the area was teeming with police on Friday evening.

Eight police cars and a helicopter were scrambled as part of the police response as residents were told to stay inside their homes.

One property was evacuated amid claims a bloodied man had entered before being found by the homeowners.

The property remained cordoned off last night. Sue Yerburgh, 58, said: "At about 5.30pm, I heard someone crashing through the undergrowth in the woods at the back of the house - which is very unusual around here."

"It is very concerning. I am just glad next door is okay," she added.

A woman, who used to own a home in Christmas Common, said that residents were ordered to stay indoors by officers, as police placed a road block outside the Fox and Hounds pub.

She said: "As we were driving into the village we saw about eight police vehicles, some unmarked, a helicopter circling overhead, and lots of uniformed police officers with big backpacks and some with dogs.

"It was a very, very unusual sight. It's massively unusual for anything like that to happen in Christmas Common.

"It's a small hamlet of only about 40 houses. I lived there for 13 years and I've never, ever known anything to happen there."

Thames Valley Police said it was unable to release the woman's identity last night as "formal processes" had yet to be carried out.

Detective Superintendent Craig Kirby said: “We are carrying out a thorough investigation to piece together what has happened to lead to this woman’s death."