Billie-Jo's foster father questioned over her death

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The Independent Online
The foster father of Billie-Jo Jenkins, the 13-year-old girl who was found beaten to death at her home 11 days ago, was being questioned last night in connection with her killing.

Sion Jenkins, 39, a deputy headmaster, was arrested early in the morning by police in Hastings, East Sussex.

Billie-Jo died after being battered over the head with a 18in metal tent spike as she painted the patio doors in the back garden of her home in Hastings.

Mr Jenkins and his wife, Lois, held a press conference shortly after the killing on 15 February at which they said that their 10-year-old daughter was the first to discover the body of Billie-Jo. Mr Jenkins had returned home with two of his four natural daughters from a music lesson after leaving Billie-Jo alone for 40 minutes, the conference was told.

Mr and Mrs Jenkins, who last December assumed legal guardianship of Billie- Jo after fostering her for four years, said that they were devastated at the loss of their daughter.

The couple said they had been plagued by prowlers and nuisance telephone calls and had felt a "sense of unease" since January. Mr Jenkins said: "We moved to the house because of the park and because of the children. But January has been a very strange and uneasy month.

"As a family, we have felt uneasy about prowlers. On one occasion I was looking out of the back window and I thought I saw movement. I switched on the outside security light and got a fleeting glimpse of somebody moving about. Another time I saw somebody in the park staring at the house."

Mrs Jenkins, 35, a social services project manager in east London, said: "We had decided to move house because of the problems in the area."

The couple did not contact the police about the recent prowlers and telephone calls.

Mr Jenkins was being questioned by detectives at Hastings police station last night. He is the third man to be arrested. A 36-year-old man was released after questioning and a 44-year-old local man was released into secure psychiatric care.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said yesterday: "A local man in his thirties was arrested this morning and was helping with inquiries."