Bosham hammer murder TV plea prompts new leads

Valerie Graves Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Valerie Graves and members of her family had been housesitting in Bosham when she was murdered

A television appeal to catch the murderer of an artist who was bludgeoned with a hammer in a West Sussex village has led to several more leads.

Crimewatch showed a reconstruction of the murder of Valerie Graves and an interview with her family.

The 55-year-old was found dead in the bedroom of the property, where she was housesitting over Christmas.

Her family were asleep in the house in Bosham, near Chichester, at the time.

Following the broadcast, Det Supt Nick May said police received over 20 calls from members of the public.

"We've had a number of really interesting calls," he said.

"We've had over 20 calls, eight of which we'll be following up."

Ms Graves had been housesitting with her mother, sister and her sister's partner over Christmas while the owners of the property were on holiday.

Her son, Tim Wood, said it had been his mother's birthday over the festive season, so they had a double celebration on Christmas Day.

Reward offered

Ms Graves, who had recently moved back to Sussex from Scotland to be closer to her family, went to bed at the property in Smugglers Lane, at 22:00 GMT on 29 December.

She was found dead in the bedroom by one of her relatives at about 10:00 the next day.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption A hammer was discovered by officers investigating the murder

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

Det Supt Nick May has said a hammer would not normally be used by burglars and the killer would have known the amount of harm it could inflict when they entered the house.

He said it was likely the killer would have a history of violence.

The hammer used in the attack was found in Hoe Lane, about 800yds (730m) from the murder scene.

A £10,000 reward has been offered for information that leads to the conviction of her killer.

A 22-year-old man arrested in January was freed without charge in March.

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