DETECTIVES have offered a £10,000 reward to help catch Valeries Graves’ murderer ‘before they hurt someone else’.
Miss Graves was found dead with serious head and facial injuries while housesitting at a home in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, on Monday, December 30.
The 55-year-old had been staying at the property while the owners were away for Christmas.
Detective Superintendent Nick May of Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team said: “This was a savage attack, where a significant level of violence was used. We know that a hammer, found nearby in Hoe Lane, was used by the offender and we are seeking the public’s help to catch this person before they hurt someone else.
“We particularly appeal to anyone who knows personally, has met professionally, or has a relationship with someone who is violent and who may have used, talked about or threatened violence with a hammer in the past.
“You may have your own concerns or suspicions about this person already, but for your own reasons have not yet come forward. Let me reassure you that we can support you whatever your concerns, but this person must be caught.
“I would also repeat our appeal for anyone who was in the area of Smuggler’s Lane, Hoe Lane or nearby on the afternoon of Sunday, December 29, to 10am or Monday, December 30.
“If you saw anything suspicious or have noticed anyone acting strangely since I urge you to contact us, no matter how incidental you may think your information to be – it could be a vital clue.”
Miss Graves was from Bracklesham Bay, having moved down from Scotland to be closer to her family.
“Val was a free spirit who enjoyed her life and was a talented artist, about to embark on a new path involving ceramics,” said her family after her death, describing her as a ‘much loved daughter, sister, mum and nan’.
Since the murder, Sussex Police said officers had interviewed more than 200 people and taken more than 100 statements as part of the investigation, but the force felt there could still be witnesses with important information who had not yet come forward.
Chief Inspector Justin Burtenshaw, district policing commander for Chichester, said: “Some local residents are obviously concerned and we want to do all we can to reassure them.
“I have ensured that extra patrols continue in the area and the neighbourhood policing team is available in Bosham to speak to residents about their concerns.
“In addition to the extra patrols, from today (March 18) there will be daily opportunities to speak to a local officer from 11am to midday outside the Bosham Craft Centre in Bosham Lane and from 7pm to 8pm outside the Co-op store in Delling Lane.”
More than 700 doors in the area have been knocked on by neighbourhood policing officers to help gather information.
According to Sussex Police, the major crime team is also being advised by the National Crime Agency to provide further offender profiling. They said they were keeping an open mind as to the motive for Valerie’s violent death.
Anyone with information should ring 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting Operation Ensign or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.