Bosham housesitter murder to feature on Crimewatch

The Argus: Valerie Graves Valerie Graves

The murder of an artist who was found dead while house-sitting for a friend in a quiet village in West Sussex will feature on Crimewatch.

Valerie Graves, 55, was found with significant head and facial injuries in a ground-floor bedroom at the waterside property in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, on December 30.

Detective Superintendent Nick May, from the Surrey and Sussex major crime team, will appeal for information and talk about a hammer which was found by police in Bosham during extensive searches and is believed to have been used to kill Miss Graves.

The discovery of the potential murder weapon last week came hours after police released on bail a 22-year-old man who had been arrested on suspicion of killing Ms Graves.

The hammer is about a foot long, with a distinctive red and black handle and is embossed with the words Forge Steel, with a picture of an outline of an anvil.

Ms Graves was murdered as she house-sat with her mother, sister and her sister's partner while the owners holidayed abroad over Christmas.

The grandmother, who had recently moved back to Sussex from Scotland to be closer to her family, went to bed at 10pm on Sunday December 29.

She was found dead by one of her three relatives at around 10am the following day in the bedroom where she had been sleeping.

A post-mortem examination revealed she had suffered significant head and facial injuries.

Relatives of Ms Graves, including her son Tim Wood and daughter Jemima Harrison, pleaded for information about the killing and paid tribute to their mother as a "free spirit who enjoyed her life and was a talented artist".

The death shocked the small community of Bosham, which featured in an episode of the ITV crime drama Midsomer Murders.

Mr May said he was still appealing for information and would like to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious or unusual in the area from the afternoon of Sunday December 29 to 10am on Monday December30.

Chief Inspector Justin Burtenshaw, district commander for Chichester, said there were extra neighbourhood police officers in Bosham who were carrying out daily patrols, as well as scene guards.

He said: "Any residents who have concerns or have any information should speak to the officers who are there in Bosham."

Anyone with information is asked to call Sussex Police on 101, quoting Operation Ensign, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

:: Crimewatch is on BBC1 at 9pm.

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