Nanny murder children to fly back to UK

TWO BRITISH children have been taken into state custody in the United States after their father was charged with the murder of their nanny.

Their mother, from Wiltshire, was last night arranging for the children to fly to England from Connecticut, where theylived with their father, David Taylor. Mr Taylor, 43, a British engineer, is in custody for the first-degree murder of Milena Pitkova, 22, from Slovakia. Ms Pitkova was killed on Tuesday by several blows to the head. There were also signs that she had been strangled.

Mr Taylor began a relationship with Ms Pitkova after divorcing his wife of 15 years, Susan Lemon. Ms Lemon, who now lives in Chippenham, was too distraught to talk about the murder but her partner, David Hollins, said the children, Adam, 14, and Hannah, 11, were being cared for by US social services and would be returning to England soon. "We spent all yesterday contacting the necessary people and making plans. The children are safe and will return home as soon as possible," he said.

Police in the Long Island Sound town of Madison, where Mr Taylor lived with the children and Ms Pitkova, said they were phoned early on Tuesday by a man who said he had just killed someone. Mr Taylor was subsequently arrested. Bail has been set at $100,000.

Local newspaper reports said that Mr Taylor struck Ms Pitkova during an argument, after she wanted to end the relationship. The couple had been living in the US for the pastthree years.

A spokeswoman for the state medical examiner's office said that the autopsy showed Ms Pitkova's skull had been crushed and cut in three places.

The Foreign Office said it was in contact with Mr Taylor and his family, and was co-operating with the US authorities.

Paul Wallace, managing director of Thermapool Europe, whose US parent company employed Mr Taylor, said: "It's certainly not something we would expect him to be accused of and it's not something we would have thought would have happened."

A company spokesman added: "We were concerned that the children were being looked after. We were told they were being looked after by an employee and we thought that this situation was satisfactory."

Mr Taylor's neighbours described him as "a very proper Englishman". Mark Smith said Ms Pitkova "was beautiful, striking, like the image of Pocahontas in the Disney movie".

Staa closed the coffee shop where she worked part-time as a waitress in remembrance yesterday. A colleague, Holly Magee, said Ms Pitkova was devoted to the children. "She loved the children and they loved her," she said.

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families confirmed the two children were in state care yesterday. John Wiltse, director of public affairs, said the department was in contact with Ms Lemon about her children's welfare. "We will be putting a plan together for their future."