Girl killing suspect's former partners come forward

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The Independent Online

Several former partners of a man believed to have murdered his partner's daughter and then killed himself have come forward to help detectives, police revealed today.

Nine-year-old Stacey Lawrence was found dead on Saturday in the cab of a white Spar lorry, parked in a lay-by on the A605 in Warmington, Northamptonshire.



She had been on a delivery run with her mother's partner, Darren Walker.



It is thought Walker, 40, strangled the schoolgirl, then hanged himself in nearby woodland.



Yesterday police revealed they could not rule out there had been some sexual touching involved in the run-up to Stacey's death.



Today Detective Chief Inspector Tricia Kirk said several of Walker's former partners had come forward to help with inquiries after national appeals.



She said the general picture emerging of Walker was "a family man with one or two episodes of domestic violence."



Yesterday Ms Kirk said the 40-year-old, who had been seeing Stacey's mum Roxanne for about a year, only had one police record - a caution in 2006 for assaulting his wife of three years.



Police also confirmed they were looking at claims that Walker, from West Bromwich, previously tried to have sex with the underage daughter of a family friend.



Ms Kirk today said: "We have also identified the woman who stated that Darren Walker made a sexual approach towards her when she was aged 15. We have obtained a full statement from her.



"I have already said there is no evidence to suggest that Stacey was subjected to a serious sexual assault before she died but I believe some sexual touching did take place.



"I am still waiting for the results of forensic tests which I hope will help me establish a fuller picture of what took place on Friday evening."



Yesterday Ms Kirk said the family computer has been seized and detectives plan to speak to Stacey's three siblings about Walker at some point.



Officers have ruled out anybody else's involvement in the incident, but are still trying to piece together what happened to lead to the murder-suicide.



Stacey and Walker, who left wholesale distribution firm AF Blakemore & Son's depot in Willenhall, West Midlands, at around 4am on Friday, had been on several trips together before.



Walker made deliveries across Norfolk throughout Friday, stopped briefly near Peterborough at about 3pm, and arrived in Warmington at about 3.35pm.



The pair ate a meal of macaroni cheese together that evening and Stacey's mother spoke to Walker some time between 7.30pm and 8pm that night.



Yesterday Ms Kirk said: "She heard Stacey talking in the background because she was watching a programme that she particularly liked.



"She doesn't describe there being any indication that there was anything wrong. It was just a normal conversation."



It is thought Stacey was killed in the lorry at some point on Friday night.



She was strangled using a ligature of black fabric, Ms Kirk said.



The same sort of fabric, possibly some sort of strapping, was also used by Walker to hang himself, she said.



Yesterday Roxanne Walker told the Express and Star she was struggling to be angry with Walker because she loved him.



She said: "Stacey was a really happy little girl and was very popular, with lots of friends.



"She used to call him dad. I've been wracking my brains."