Detectives were yesterday attempting to interview two children aged three and four who were in a house when their teenage babysitter was stabbed to death.
Chatherine Wynter, 19, was looking after her nephew and niece at her sister's home when she was attacked on Boxing Day night, police said. She was found by her mother the next morning at the terraced house in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
It was not clear if the three-year-old boy, or the four-year-old girl, neither of whom were injured, were in the same room when the attack took place. The police interviews are expected to take some time because of the age of the children. It was not immediately clear how much, if anything, they knew of the attack.
Two men, one aged 18 from a different address in Borehamwood, and a 26-year-old from Islington, have been arrested and are being questioned on suspicion of murder. Police said the pair, who have not been named, were known by Ms Wynter and her sister, but were not direct relatives. Officers are investigating if the babysitter allowed the attackers into the house.
Ms Wynter, who was also known as Katy, was a student at West Hertfordshire College in Watford and regularly babysat for her sister. Her family released a brief statement last night describing her as "a quiet girl who enjoyed life". "She was a loving auntie to her niece and newphew," it added.
Neighbours spoke of their shock at the killing. Doreen Foster, 76, a family friend, described Ms Wynter as a "mad Dr Who fan". "She had a bubbly personality and was never in a bad mood," she added. Floral tributes were left near the house. One read: "To darling Katy. RIP angel. We will miss you so much."
Yesterday police had cordoned off the road and were searching the surrounding area for evidence.
Ms Wynter and the children were on their own in the house at the time of the attack. She last spoke to someone at 7pm on Boxing Day night on the telephone and her body was found the next morning at 8am by her mother.
A post-mortem examination conducted yesterday found that the teenager had died from stab wounds. Detective Superintendent Mick Hanlon said: "Firstly, our thoughts are with the victim's family. As you can imagine, this is an extremely traumatic time and they are being supported by specialist family liaison officers.
"We have a team of detectives currently working on the case who are looking at a number of lines of inquiry to establish exactly what happened. However, I would like to appeal to the communities of Borehamwood to help us."
Officers have asked anyone who saw anything suspicious between 5pm on Boxing Day and the following morning to come forward.