THE son and daughter of Valerie Graves have appealed for information to help the police investigation into her death after at a press conference today (January 3).
Detectives from Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team launched a murder inquiry after the 55-year-old was found dead in a house in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, on Monday (December 30).
Her daughter Jemima Harrison and son Tim Wood, said: “Our mum was much loved and will be sorely missed by the whole family.
“She was a free spirit who enjoyed her life and was a talented artist. She had lived in Scotland for about ten years, a place she loved and which inspired her passion for art.
“She had moved back to Sussex to look after her mum as family was important to her.
“We had been lucky to spend time with mum over Christmas and she had a lovely family time, especially with her two grandchildren.
“She had been looking forward to seeing her young granddaughter grow up and was interested in her grandson’s musical ambitions.
“This has been devastating for the family and has come as a complete shock.
“We would appeal to anyone who has any information about this, no matter how trivial it is, to contact police to help them catch whoever has done this.”
Miss Graves was house-sitting at the property with her sister, their elderly mother and her sister’s partner, over the Christmas period while the owner was away on holiday.
She was found dead in a ground-floor bedroom at 9.50am on Monday by a member of her family.
A postmortem has revealed she died from significant head and facial injuries.
Detective Superintendent Nick May said: “We are interested in hearing from anyone who knows someone who may have come home wearing different clothes or with blood stained clothing on Sunday night or Monday. Also if you have been asked to wash any bloodstained clothes or been asked to dispose of clothing.
“We are keeping an open mind as to the motive but we are looking at different lines of enquiry including that this was someone who knew Valerie or someone unconnected to her.
“We are still appealing for witnesses who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously or anything unusual in the area from late afternoon on Sunday, December 29, to around 10am on Monday, December 30.
“Please call us if you know anything, no matter how insignificant you might think it is. It could be important to the investigation.
“This has been devastating and traumatic for the victim’s family, some of whom have been brave enough to come here and make an appeal.
“This is a significant event for the force and we have a large team of detectives, search teams, neighbourhood police officers, scenes of crime officers and family liaison officers working on the investigation.”
Chief Inspector Tanya Jones, district commander for Chichester, said: “We are doing all we can to reassure the residents of Bosham.
“Our advice is to secure their properties as they would normally, to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity or anyone acting unusually to police.
“We have an increased police presence in the area and anyone with concerns can speak to the officers there.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting Operation Ensign or call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.