Detective Superintendent Trevor Davies of Thames Valley Police said that the scene in the blood-soaked flat in Slough, Berkshire, where the three bodies were found on Thursday evening, was "quite appalling"."I believe the person who carried out this attack has to be deranged in some way," he said.
Det Supt Davies disclosed that post-mortem examinations showed that railway worker Peter Smith, 31, decorator Ian Brown, 36, and Gillian Harvey, 30, who was believed to be a voluntary worker with the elderly, were killed by multiple blows to the head. He said officers had found an 18-inch axe in the flat, but forensic science examination had not yet proved it was the weapon used. Examination of the flat was continuing, he said.
Police found the bodies after Ms Harvey and Mr Smith were reported missing separately by relatives.
Mr Davies said it did not appear that the killings were sparked off by an argument among the dead friends. "We have no reason to believe at the moment that there was any altercation between any of them. They were very, very good friends," he said.
He added that there was no sign of a forced entry into the flat, but refused to speculate as to whether the murderer or murderers were known to their victims. He said: "We are keeping an open mind as to a motive. Theft, a sexual motive - nothing has been discounted."
Mr Davies said it was not known if the killings were the work of a single person. When asked how one person could have killed all three, and whether they had been first incapacitated or tied up, he said: "I would very much like to understand that. That is something that the forensic examination might reveal."
He paid tribute to the victims' families for their help in the police inquiry, saying: "This is a terrible time for them and we really do appreciate the co-operation they have given us."
He said that 30 detectives were working in the search for the killer and that a number of people had come forward following police appeals.
"The viciousness of the attack makes it imperative we get this person off the streets without delay. I believe it is a public duty of anyone who knows anything at all about these murders to come forward," he said.Reuse content