The ‘murder’ of a female pensioner in woodland on a National Trust estate remained a mystery today as pathologists failed to discover the cause of her death.
A 23-year-old man arrested over the killing remains seriously ill in hospital with ‘self-inflicted’ injuries. He has a police guard at his bedside.
The body of the woman, who was in her 60s, was discovered on the Watlington Estate in Oxfordshire just before 6pm on Friday evening.
Four days after the murder, investigators have not formally identified the victim’s body but next-of-kin have been informed. It is thought the 23-year-old was known to the woman.
On Saturday, police were pictured where the woman was found dead and also at a house nearby, on Hollandridge Lane.
The body of a woman was discovered at National Trust estate Watlington Hill and a man, 23, arrested on suspicion of murder is being treated for serious injuries, police said. Pictured: Police at the scene on Saturday
A woman living next door, Sue Yerbergh, 58, said the owners of the property told her a man broke into their home before they found him ‘naked and bleeding’ in their shower room.
She said a man was earlier seen running through nearby woods towards her and her neighbour’s property.
Police earlier said they were appealing for anyone who saw a man behaving strangely near the Fox and Hounds pub – a short walk from the home where the man was found – at around 3.30pm to get in touch.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the Watlington Hill area at around 5.50pm was also asked to contact the force.
Thames Valley Police found the body in woodland on the Watlington Hill estate just before 6pm on Friday and are linking the death to reports of a man seen acting suspiciously near a pub a few hours earlier
Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the Watlington Hill area at around 5.50pm is also asked to contact the force
Ms Yerburgh, 58, a retired gardener, told MailOnline: ‘I heard someone crashing through the undergrowth, which is very unusual around here. My dog started barking.
‘It was about 5:30pm. He got into the next door house. They were in their swimming pool and found him in the shower room naked and bleeding.
‘He had been there for two hours before they realised.’
She said the family were told to leave their home by police after the man was arrested.
On Saturday, forensic officers were pictured entering the property.
Ms Yerburgh said she was told the man ran to her neighbour’s home through nearby woods.
A map shows the Fox and Hounds pub and the Watlington Hill estate where the woman’s body was found
Police were also pictured entering a house near to the woodland where the woman was found (right). Left: Forensic investigators at the scene
Another woman, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I saw him jump on to the car of another woman, then he ran towards the side of the road and tried to get into my car.
‘He ran off and I went to help the woman whose car he’d jumped on because I thought she was a potential victim.’
A third person said the victim was likely to be local to the area.
Graham Skinner, 64, a retired sales manager from Watlington, said: ‘I would have thought they are local, from Christmas Common.
‘It is a popular spot. We get loads of people coming for walking.
‘They would have had to get there somehow.
Police said a man was seen acting suspiciously at around 3.30pm near the Fox and Hounds pub, a short walk from where the woman was found dead
‘If there isn’t a vehicle and if they walked it is a long way from Watlington let alone anywhere else.
‘It’d be along the road, maybe a late afternoon dog walk.
‘I have got to suppose it is someone who knows and lives in the area.’
The Watlington Hill estate was donated to the National Trust in the mid-20th century and is popular with walkers and tourists.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Brown, the head of the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Team, said cordons which sealed off Christmas Common and Watlington Hill in South Oxfordshire remain in place with police guards on all the entrances.
Police swooped in on a country home to arrest a man on suspicion of murder after an elderly woman was found dead in National Trust woodland. Pictured: Police at the scene
The body of the woman, who was in her 60s, was discovered on the Watlington Estate in Oxfordshire just before 6pm on Friday evening. Pictured: Forensics officers on scene
Thames Valley Police later said that they had arrested a 23-year-old man, who was seriously injured, on suspicion of murder. Pictured: Police vans at the scene
A spokesman for the police said: ‘The Major Crime Unit is continuing its murder investigation following an incident in the Watlington Hill area on Friday.
‘At around 5.53pm on Friday the body of a woman in her 60s was located in woodland in the Watlington Hill National Trust park.’
A post-mortem examination yesterday failed to produce a cause of death and ‘further specialist forensic tests’ are expected to take some time.
‘Formal identification of the victim is still to be carried out and we will update in due course. The woman’s next of kin have been informed and they continue to be supported by specially trained officers,’ they added.
Police roadblock pictured in Oxfordshire where a man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a woman
Police swooped in on a country home to arrest a man on suspicion of murder after an elderly woman was found dead in National Trust woodland. Pictured: Forensic officers on the scene
The body of the woman, who was in her 60s, was discovered on the Watlington Estate in Oxfordshire just before 6pm on Friday evening. Pictured: Forensic officers on the scene
‘A 23-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder remains in hospital in a serious but stable condition. Scene watches remain in place around the park area.’
Detective Superintendent Brown encouraged anyone who knew anything about what happened to come forward.
He added: ‘Detectives are carrying out a thorough investigation and our inquiries are continuing.
‘We would like to again thank the public for their co-operation and I would continue to ask if anyone has information that they feel may be able to assist us in our investigation please call 101.
‘If anyone wishes to report anonymously they can do so by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.’
Villagers in the area were tight-lipped about the background to the murder with no-one willing to comment on claims that the arrested man had been found naked and covered in blood in the shower room of a house near the scene.