Valerie Graves murder: 'Possible weapon' found by police

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

Police have revealed pictures of a weapon they think may have been used to murder a grandmother who was killed as she house-sat for friends.

Valerie Graves, 55, was found dead at the house in Bosham, near Chichester in West Sussex, on 30 December.

She had been house-sitting with her mother, sister and her sister's partner while the homeowners holidayed abroad.

Police think the artist was bludgeoned to death with a claw hammer that was found by officers searching in Bosham.

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

'Suspect bailed'

Det Supt Nick May, of Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: "We need to know the origins of this hammer. Do you recognise it?

"We need people to check if they have lost such a hammer or had one stolen in the period leading up to the murder.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption The hammer was discovered by officers investigating Ms Graves' murder

"We would also ask police officers, prison staff, probation officers and professionals who work in mental health, if they have dealt with anyone who has talked about causing someone harm with a hammer, to let us know.

"The hammer is about 30cm in length. It has a distinctive red and black handle and is embossed with the words Forge Steel with a picture of an outline of an anvil."

A 22-year-old man who was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of murdering Ms Graves has been released on bail until 17 February.

On Thursday, it emerged that a house in Hoe Lane, Bosham, was being searched in connection with the inquiry.

Ms Graves was discovered by one of her relatives at about 10:00 GMT in the bedroom where she had been sleeping.

She had recently moved back to Sussex from Scotland to be closer to her family.

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