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Missing man sought by murder police

Police hunting the killer of a pensioner battered to death in her own home are searching for a missing man in connection with the inquiry.

Northumbria Police said they believe Graeme Jarman could help with the investigation into the murder of 77-year-old Judith Richardson, who was bludgeoned to death with a hammer.

Mr Jarman, 47, was reported missing by Durham Constabulary on Friday night after he disappeared from his home in Greenways, Delves Lane, Consett, on August 17.

Police warned people not to approach Mr Jarman and described him as posing "a risk to himself and others".

Miss Richardson's body was discovered by police in the hallway of her stone-built terraced home in St Wilfrid's Road, Hexham, Northumberland, on August 19, after her stolen handbag and some of its contents were found stuffed into a litter bin in Newcastle city centre, 25 miles away.

The leather handbag was found by a member of the public in a bin outside a charity shop in Clayton Street.

Police, believing they were dealing with a simple lost property or theft case, were confronted by Miss Richardson's battered body on the Friday evening.

A post-mortem examination showed she died from head injuries.

Police found a hammer in a plastic bag in the street near her home and have confirmed that was the murder weapon.

Three police forces are today searching for Mr Jarman, who is believed to have been seen in Stockton town centre on Friday but could be "anywhere in the North East".

He was described as a heavily built man of average height, clean shaven with dark hair and last seen wearing blue jeans, a light blue polo shirt with dark cuffs and carrying a dark jacket. It is believed he may have recently shaved his head.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Young, of Northumbria Police, said: "We have information which suggests that Mr Jarman might be able to assist with this investigation and we would like to speak to him without delay."

Mr Young added: "I would ask anyone who sees someone matching this description to contact the police directly.

"They are advised not to approach him as we consider that he poses a risk to himself and others."

A man and a woman, both pensioners, were arrested on Monday in connection with the murder.

Annie Snaith, 78, a charity shop worker, and Edward Brewis, 84, both of Hexham, have been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Mrs Snaith works at the Save the Children shop in Hexham Market Place.

Mr Young said he could not comment on whether the two were murder suspects.

He said investigators were "keeping an open mind" as to whether Miss Richardson, who never married and lived alone with her West Highland terrier Hamish, knew her killer.

Anyone with information is asked to ring 0191 3752176 or 03456 043043.