Mother found dead at Dartmoor along with her two children was depressed say neighbours and had gone missing before

Katherine Hooper had disappeared with two children in May last year before being found covered in mud and dehydrated

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The Independent Online

A young mother found dead along with her two children suffered from severe depression following domestic difficulties, according to her neighbours.

Police began investigating after the bodies of Katherine Hooper, 24, and her five-year-old son Joshua Patterson were found at the bottom of a 100ft cliff in Dartmoor National Park on Friday.

The body of a two-year-old boy was later discovered at her home address in Dukes Close, Paignton.

Last May, police launched a major search and rescue operation after Ms Hooper suddenly disappeared with her two children.

When fears for their safety grew, officers called on the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team to help with the search.

Twenty-four hours later, Ms Hooper was found reportedly covered in mud and suffering from dehydration.

She was then taken to hospital while her two sons were taken into care, but two weeks ago, Ms Hooper and her two sons moved back into their home in Dukes Close.

Devon and Cornwall Police have launched a murder investigation led by the force's major crime investigation team.

Detectives said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident - but confirmed all three had been known to various welfare agencies and a Serious Case Review would also be launched as well.

Detective Superintendent Paul Burgan said: “We are keeping an open mind about all three deaths, but at this stage we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

“We are keen to speak to anyone who may have any information or might have been in the Haytor area earlier today, Friday.”

An air ambulance, a police helicopter and members of the Dartmoor Rescue Group were called to Haytor in Devon at 11.50am on Thursday.

The Dartmoor National Park Authority has asked members of the public to avoid visiting the area following the tragedy.

Tributes were paid to the mother and child by members of the emergency services.

The Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team tweeted: “The team were called to assist at a tragic incident at Haytor today.

“Our thoughts are with the family.”

Post-mortem examinations are due to take place and next of kin have been informed, according to police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact 101, quoting log 316 of 120713.