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UPDATE: Bosham murder victim named as 55-year-old Valerie Graves
1:57pm Tuesday 31st December 2013 in News
A woman murdered while house-sitting with family members in Bosham, West Sussex, is believed to be Valerie Graves, of Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex, according to Sussex Police.
The 55-year-old was discovered with a serious head injury in the property at the large family house in Smuggler's Lane, Bosham, near Chichester, West Sussex, at 9.50am on Monday.
A Sussex Police spokesman said that a post-mortem examination had not yet been carried out, but the death was being treated as suspicious and was being investigated by detectives from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team.
The spokesman added that the victim had not yet been formally identified.
A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: "They (the owners) have people staying in the house while they are away for the holidays, it could be friends, it could be family.
"It is not rented out, people come because it is a nice place to visit.
"We do not know who they were, they have been there since Christmas.
"There were cars parked in the drive, they were entirely well-behaved, they came gently and went gently, we heard absolutely nothing."
She added that they first realised that something had happened when they saw an ambulance and police cars parked outside the detached property which has a children's playground and football posts in the garden.
She said: "We looked across and saw the ambulance and three police cars, believed something was amiss and we worked out what had happened but we know no more.
"I am just very sad for our neighbours and for everybody.
"You can't imagine coming back from holiday to this, it must be just horrendous."
Speaking of the owners, she added: "They are just a very nice family, very nice neighbours, it's just very sad for them."
Another neighbour said that they believed the owners had twin daughters.
A man who lives nearby said: "It's shocking to happen here or anywhere."
A police van was this morning parked outside the house, which is called Hove To, with a forensic support van parked outside.
Police search officers were also carrying out searches of drains and small streams in the area.
Detective Chief Inspector Jon Fanner said: "At this stage we are keeping an open mind as to the motive, but we are appealing for witnesses who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area from late afternoon on Sunday December 29 to around 9am 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 is a rare incident for Bosham, which is a safe area. We have increased our neighbourhood policing patrols in the village and if anyone has any information or concerns, I would urge them to speak to one of the officers who are there."
The house is in Smuggler's Lane which is in the rural outskirts of the small seaside village of Bosham.
The property was last sold in June 2000 for £745,000, according to property websites.
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