Valerie Graves murder: Break-in at Bosham house probed

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

Police investigating the murder of an artist are examining the possibility there was a break-in at the West Sussex property she was house-sitting.

Valerie Graves, 55, was found dead at the house in Smuggler's Lane in Bosham, near Chichester, on Monday morning.

She had been staying there with three family members while the owners were on holiday.

Officers said a stranger unconnected to Ms Graves or her family may have committed the murder.

The force is also investigating whether her death was connected to something in her past or to someone she knew recently.

Det Supt Nick May of Sussex Police, who is leading the investigation, appealed for information from anyone who saw someone with "blood-stained clothes".

He also urged anyone who has been asked to wash or dispose of clothing "in unusual circumstances" to contact the force.

'Much loved'

Det Supt May said: "One of the lines of inquiry is that this act has been committed by somebody unconnected to Valerie.

"I'm not going to go into the specifics of how somebody may or may not have entered the house."

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

Speaking at a police press conference Ms Graves' son Tim Wood said his mother had recently moved back to Sussex from Scotland to be closer to her family.

"My mum was much loved and will be sorely missed by the whole family," he said.

"She was a free spirit who enjoyed her life and was a talented artist.

"She had lived in Scotland for about 10 years, a place she loved and which inspired her passion for art.

"This has been devastating for the family and has come as a complete shock.

"We would appeal to anyone who has any information about this, no matter how trivial it is, to contact the police to help us catch whoever has done this horrible act."

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