Family killed in 'axe' attack

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The Independent Online
A MAN is believed to have slaughtered his estranged wife and her elderly parents with an axe then shortly afterwards died in his blazing, barricaded home a couple of miles away.

The body of Philip Heyward, 64, a tree surgeon, was found yesterday at his razed house in St Blazey Gate, Cornwall. It is thought he hanged himself.

The bodies of his wife Phyllis Heyward, aged in her fifties, and her parents, Albert and Myra Spring, both in their eighties, were found by Mrs Heyward's sister, Shirley Solomon. They had been beaten to death and had severe head injuries inflicted by what appeared to be a blunt instrument.

An axe was recovered from Mr Heyward's house, but police would not say whether it was the murder weapon.

Detective Inspector Dave Rowe said last night that no one else was being sought in connection with the deaths.

Mrs Heyward had left her husband six weeks ago and was staying at Ms Solomon's house in St Austell. Their parents had been visiting for a birthday party.

It is understood that Mr Heyward's neighbours had begun to express concern about his mental health after the couple separated. Neighbours of Ms Solomon said that the family kept themselves to themselves, though police had been called to the terraced house a number of times in the past few weeks.

The bodies of the two women were found in the kitchen and Mr Spring's body was found at the top of stairs.

Yesterday police were still trying to piece together the events leading up to the attack.

A next-door neighbour of Ms Solomon said: "I didn't hear any disturbance. All I heard was Shirley's dog, Honey, barking a lot."