Money stolen from 'murder' victim Norma Bell's Hartlepool home

Norma Bell Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Norma Bell is believed to have been murdered before her house was set alight

Police investigating the suspected murder of a 79-year-old woman believe a "substantial" amount of money was stolen from her home.

Norma Bell was found dead in her house in Hartlepool after a fire.

Cleveland Police said they believe she was murdered overnight between 2 and 3 April before the blaze was started.

Officers said a handbag, which was thought to have been taken from the home on Westbourne Road, had now been located inside the property.

Hundreds of pounds of cash remains missing.

Det Supt Alastair Simpson said: "If anyone has noticed that someone they know has come into some money over the last couple of days and is concerned about a change in their behaviour, it is really important that they contact police.

"Again, I would appeal to anyone with private CCTV in the area to check their footage and see if there is anything on there between Saturday evening and Sunday morning which could assist us with our investigation."

Mrs Bell had lived at the address for 27 years and was due to celebrate her 80th birthday next month.

Police are also asking people to check on elderly friends and relatives and are reminding people not to let strangers into their home without first checking their identification.

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