'Devastated' family of pensioner appeal for help

 

The son and daughter of a pensioner murdered at her riverside cottage appealed today for help to bring her killer to justice.

The body of retired teacher Betty Yates, 77, was found at her remote property near Bewdley, Worcestershire, on January 4. She is believed to have been killed two days earlier.

Her daughter Hazel told a press conference that it was possible her mother knew her killer.

She said: "Friends and family ask us what we think of who could be responsible for this but we have no idea of who could do something like this to our mum."

Hazel Costello told the media that her mother's funeral took place last week.

She said: "We are, of course, devastated by the dreadful manner in which our mum met her death at the beginning of this year.

"We held her funeral on Thursday of last week, which was an even sadder affair because we were too fragile to contemplate a gathering beyond immediate family.

"We would like to apologise to all those people who would have liked to have paid their respects and we promise to hold a memorial service later in the year when our feelings are less raw."

Mrs Costello, flanked her brother, David Yates, added: "We are completely bewildered as to who could carry out such a savage attack on our mother.

"That this should have happened in her home makes this even more difficult to bear.

"Our mum and dad searched for many years to find this spot and then built their dream, not just in bricks and mortar.

"Our father, Ray, died almost seven years ago and there was never a possibility in our minds that Mum would want to leave the cottage.

"She was so happy there - it is a truly beautiful place filled with shared family memories."

Mr Yates told the press conference: "Our mum was 77 but in the press we have heard her described as 'elderly'. Nothing could be further from the truth - our mum was full of life, which makes this even harder to take.

"She swam most days at a local hotel and was a member of a walking group.

"She had been a teacher before she retired and she remained in contact with many of her ex-pupils. She always wanted to know how they were getting on."

Listing his mother's many interests, Mr Yates added: "Since Dad's death she had busied herself because she missed him.

"She joined the University of the Third Age and ran their book club and attended arts sessions.

"She volunteered for the Bewdley Festival and had recently gone back to a local school to help out with listening to kids read.

"She was at the heart of the community in Bewdley and we know from all the cards we have had how much she was loved and will be missed."

He went on: "We are asked by friends and family what we think about whoever was responsible for killing our mum.

"This is really difficult because we are at a loss to understand why somebody could do this and what we really need is some kind of explanation."

Mr Yates, 51, said the family had spent Christmas together, as they did every year, before his mother, who was celebrating her birthday, returned to her home on December 28.

"It is not just our sadness as a family but our friends and her friends - many of whom we do not know - who have lost somebody who was great fun to be with and a constant support," he said.

"It is striking how many people have described her as like a second mum and of course we know how much she meant to her ex-pupils, many of whom have sent letters or posted messages on Facebook."

Appealing directly for the killer to give themselves up, Mrs Costello said: "This has been such a hard time for us - to lose your mum is always dreadful but to lose your mum like this when you worry constantly about how frightened she might have been or what she might have felt during such a vicious attack is like a nightmare.

"At the moment we don't know if it was a burglary or if there was any other reason.

"It is possible our mum knew who killed her and this only makes things worse."

The 53-year-old solicitor, whose mother taught at schools in the West Midlands and the Wyre Forest area, added: "Please, if you know anything about this can you come forward.

"If you have done this then please hand yourselves in. And if you are protecting somebody, please think about how we are hurting and tell the police what you know."

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Jamieson, who is leading the inquiry, urged anyone who visited Mrs Yates' cottage between December 28 and January 2 to come forward.

The officer said: "This is a massive inquiry and knowing who else has been at the cottage other than Mrs Yates, even if someone just popped in for a moment, could prevent officers wasting time and resources that could be focused on other parts of the investigation.

"We are as determined as ever to track down the person or people responsible for this dreadful murder and we will not stop until we have achieved that."

After listening to the appeal made by Mrs Yates' children, DCI Jamieson stated: "No-one could fail to be moved by what we have heard from the family and I would again urge anyone holding back information to pick up the phone now.

"I would also like to remind everyone that a reward of up to £10,000 has been offered by Crimestoppers for anyone who contacts the independent charity anonymously on 0800 555 111 and passes on information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for killing Betty Yates."

Anyone with information which could assist the inquiry is urged to contact the Major Incident Room at Stourport Police Station on 0300 333 3000.

PA

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game