Reverend John Suddards and Betty Yates deaths link probed

Betty Yates and the Reverend John Suddards
Image caption Police are examining "similarities" between the murders of Betty Yates and John Suddards

Police investigating the death of a vicar in south Gloucestershire are exploring "any potential links" to the murder of a Worcestershire pensioner.

Betty Yates, 77, was found stabbed to death at her cottage near Bewdley last month.

Avon and Somerset Police arrested Stephen Farrow, 47, over the killing of Reverend John Suddards in Kent earlier.

Mr Suddards, 59, was found at his vicarage at St Mary's Church, Thornbury, on Tuesday.

Det Ch Insp Neil Jamieson, of West Mercia Police, said the force was "particularly interested" in the work by Avon and Somerset Police.

"We have been working together with them to examine similarities between that incident and the murder of Betty Yates," he added.

Beaten and stabbed

Mrs Yates, a retired teacher, was found stabbed to death at the foot of the stairs at her home on the banks of the River Severn on 4 January.

The 77-year-old had also been beaten with her walking stick.

A man was arrested on 2 February and questioned by police investigating her death but he was later released on bail.

Image caption Stephen Farrow was arrested in Folkestone early on Sunday

West Mercia Police later issued descriptions of two men seen close to her home on the day they believe she died.

Both men are described as white, with brown hair and dark clothes.

One man in his late 20s to early 30s was wearing a baggy, cherry red, waterproof-style coat with a hood which was down.

The second, who was said to be in his mid to late-40s, was wearing a plain, light-coloured, three-quarter length coat with a single row of buttons.

Crimestoppers has offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the killer.

'Multiple stab wounds'

Mr Suddards was found stabbed to death at his home in Castle Street by builders on a planned job. They had been given a key by a caretaker.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had died from "multiple stab wounds".

Police on Saturday launched a nationwide appeal for Mr Farrow, who they said was known to travel the country extensively, mainly by bus.

He was arrested in Folkestone by Kent Police at about 04:20 GMT by officers acting on a tip-off from the public.

Police had arrested a 43-year-old man but said on Saturday he had been released without charge.

They also revealed they had seized a white Citroen van from a property about a mile from the vicarage late on Tuesday night.

Avon and Somerset Police have also appealed for information about a man, of average build and wearing dark clothing, who was sitting on the pavement outside St Mary's Church on Monday evening between 18:00 and 20:00 GMT.

A former barrister, Mr Suddards joined the clergy 22 years ago after a serious car crash.

He moved to the Thornbury parish six months ago, having served at St Nicolas Church in Witham, Essex, for 10 years and before that at Great Yeldham parish, 20 miles away in Essex.

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