Sussex

Bosham house-sitter murder victim moved to be near family

Valerie Graves
Image caption Valerie Graves was staying at the house with three family members

A woman who was found murdered while house-sitting had recently moved back to West Sussex from Scotland to be close to her family, they have said.

Valerie Graves, 55, was staying at the house in Smuggler's Lane, Bosham, near Chichester, with three family members while the owners were on holiday.

Ms Graves, of Bracklesham Bay, was found dead at the property on Monday by a member of the family.

A post-mortem examination found she died from head and facial injuries.

The family paid tribute to Ms Graves, who had two adult children.

"Val was a free spirit who enjoyed her life and was a talented artist, about to embark on a new path involving ceramics," they said.

"She was an eternal student, who was always hungry for a new challenge.

Image caption The family who own the house in Smuggler's Lane were away on holiday

"She had recently moved back to Sussex from Scotland to be closer to her family and we were lucky enough to spend Christmas together."

Ms Graves was a well-known artist and textile designer in the Scottish Borders with her own studio near Jedburgh.

Sussex Police said officers had spoken to members of Ms Graves's family, her friends and associates during the murder investigation.

Det Chief Insp Jon Fanner said police were keeping an open mind about the murder motive.

The family who own the house were out of the country on holiday at the time.

Ms Graves's family said her murder had been a "complete shock" and appealed to anyone with any information to contact Sussex Police.

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