Family's plea after cottage murder


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The Independent Online

The family of a retired teacher who was murdered at her isolated riverside cottage have appealed for information to help catch her killer.

In a statement issued by West Mercia Police, the son and daughter of Betty Yates paid tribute to the 77-year-old, who was found stabbed near Bewdley, Worcestershire, as a "lovely character" who was highly popular in the local area.

Describing their mother as a "true lady", the widow's son, David, and daughter, Hazel, said: "We do not understand why or how anybody could have done this and we would urge anyone who has any idea about who is responsible or has any information at all to come forward and tell the police."

Mrs Yates, who was a member of local walking and book clubs, was found at her substantial detached cottage off Dowles Road on Wednesday morning after concerns for her welfare were raised by a friend.

The retired school teacher, who taught in the Wyre Forest area, had lived at the property, which overlooks the River Severn, for more than 30 years.

In their statement, Mrs Yates's children said: "Our mother was a vivacious, independent and popular person.

"She had a lovely character and was extremely caring. She was also very fit and active for her age.

"Naturally we are extremely shocked and saddened at the manner of her death and at this time we do not know whether we will ever come to terms with that.

"Thankfully we were able to spend some quality time together when we all got together over Christmas and those are now our final, treasured memories.

"We will always remember her with love and affection - as well as being our mother she was a true lady."

Forensic teams are still conducting inquiries at the cottage, named Riverscroft, which lies at the end of track running along the western bank of the Severn.

Mrs Yates had lived at the house alone for the past seven years following the death of her husband, who was a director of a company based in Pensnett, near Dudley, West Midlands.

The victim, who is also survived by her elder sister, Joan, was well known in the wider area and took part in activities organised by the Wyre Forest University of the Third Age.

She also hosted book readings at her home and was a member of a local art group and Bewdley Civic Society.

More than 40 police officers and staff are working on the murder inquiry, based at a Major Incident Room set up at Stourport police station.

A police cordon remains in place to prevent access from Dowles Road to the track leading to the secluded cottage and two other riverside properties.

In a statement issued yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Jamieson, who is leading the murder investigation, said: "Our thoughts are with Mrs Yates's family at this sad time for them.

"Mrs Yates was subjected to a violent attack and we are determined to catch the person or people responsible."

Police search teams spent yesterday combing grassland near Riverscroft and a knife recovered at the scene is being forensically examined.

Appealing for witnesses and information, Mr Jamieson said: "The cottage is in a secluded spot near the riverside and in an area popular with anglers and walkers.

"If you were near there between lunchtime on Monday and around 9am on Wednesday, then please get in touch.

"We also need to know if you saw anyone else there or anything suspicious, including any vehicles in unusual circumstances."

The officer added: "Mrs Yates was very active locally and had many friends.

"As part of our investigation, we are trying to build up a detailed picture of her and her lifestyle and we therefore want to hear from anyone who saw or talked to her in the weeks leading up to her death.

"The smallest detail could be important to our investigation so if you know anything at all, then please get in touch without delay."

Anyone with information should call the Major Incident Room at Stourport police station on 0300 333 3000 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they wish to remain anonymous.