A three-year-old was left alone for at least two days in a flat with his murdered father, who was beaten to death in an apparently motiveless attack.
Scott Marshall, 45, was found in the Kingsdown area of Bristol on 25 February. Police confirmed yesterday that his son, Abraham, had been left with the corpse for "at least two days". Abraham is thought to have slept beside his father's body, where he was found by family friends crying and distressed.
A post-mortem examination revealed that Mr Marshall died as a result of an extensive injury to the head.
Mr Marshall's mother, Betty, who will now bring up Abraham, said: "My tears for Scott are gone. Whoever did this I want them put away for a long time. Nobody who was human would leave a child alone for two days."
Mr Marshall had been looking after Abraham alone since the death of his wife, Lisa, who died two years ago from cancer. The couple, who had been together for 10 years, married weeks before she died.
His sister Tania Lovewell said the family would struggle to come to terms with his loss. She said: "Scott was a much-loved father, brother and uncle and will be missed by each and every one of us. Not a day will pass without one or all of us thinking of him.
"He was unique and gave to each of us a different aspect of his personality. Abraham will now be cared for by his close and loving family."
Detective Inspector Nigel Woods, who is leading the investigation, said: "This is an isolated but tragic incident which ... has left the family devastated and the young son, Abraham, orphaned."
He said the case was now focused on recovering a camcorder and silver metallic box. "We are appealing for local people who have seen either the camcorder or the silver case since Tuesday. These are vital to the investigation and we need to recover them. No questions will be asked. The only interest we have is in recovering these items."
Det Insp Woods said that Abraham was well after his ordeal in the flat with his father's body. He said: "We understand that the child was there for some time. It was distressing. He is now with his family, he's fit, well and healthy. The child has had a torrid time but fortunately he has survived and survived well."
Mr Marshall was due to be the best man at the wedding of his friend Marc Davies later this year. A tearful Mr Davies said: "He was the most wonderful person I've met in my life. He was a loving father and wonderful friend. He was a big fan of loud music and loved the band Radiohead."
Mr Marshall was wearing only his dressing gown when his friends, who were worried because they had not heard from him, found him.
Another friend said: "Abraham is such a beautiful, boisterous little boy. I can't stand to think of him all alone for three days while Scott lay dead on the floor.
"He was probably sitting by his dad the whole time. I can't understand why the poor little thing did not try to use the phone to ring anyone."
Mr Marshall and Abraham's mother married weeks before she died of cancer in 2003 and he gave up his cleaning job to care for the boy.
James Long, 27, from the Clifton area of the city, has been charged with the murder of Mr Marshall and was remanded in custody by magistrates in Bristol on Thursday.
- More about: