Mother of murder suspect makes emotional plea

The mother of a missing man suspected of murdering his girlfriend and baby daughter broke down yesterday as she made an appeal for him to come forward.

Anthony Marsh, 21, has not been seen since yesterday morning, when the bodies of Stephanie Bellinger and eight-month-old Lily were found at their home in Totton, near Southampton, Hampshire.

A relative of Miss Bellinger, 24, made the grim discovery at the red-brick semi-detached home just before 9am. It is thought the mother and her child were stabbed to death.

Wendy Marsh broke down as she tried to speak at a press conference at Southampton Central Police Station.

She was unable to complete the statement, which had to be read out by her family liaison officer.

Detective Constable John Woodward addressed Mr Marsh on behalf of his mother, who was visibly trembling, saying: "Anthony, if you are watching or if you read or hear this please understand that all your family are very concerned about you.

"They are here to support you in any way they can. It is pointless to run away or hide.

"Whatever has happened, you must now hand yourself into the police or phone them and tell them where you are.

"Please Anthony, for the sake of all the family."

Dressed in a black jacket, Mrs Marsh had to be helped out of the room by police officers after the brief statement was made as she could barely stand.

The public has been warned not to approach "dangerous" Mr Marsh, who is thought to be armed with a knife.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Mathews made a direct appeal for Mr Marsh to come forward.

Speaking at the press conference, he said: "We have identified 21-year-old Anthony Marsh as a suspect for the murders and it is paramount that we trace Mr Marsh as soon as possible.

"To do this we are seeking the support and assistance of the public and the media.

"I would repeat that we consider Mr Marsh to be a dangerous man who should not be approached by the public. We have reason to believe that he may be in possession of a knife."

He described the case as a "tragedy" and directly appealed to Mr Marsh to come forward.

A police spokesman added that Miss Bellinger's family were distraught, saying: "They're absolutely torn apart."

Officers said Mr Marsh has been known to sleep rough in churches and travel by rail, and appealed for anyone who had seen him to come forward.

DCI Mathews added: "Mr Marsh has also been known to take long walks within the New Forest National Park and had a favourite spot he liked to visit.

"It is between Lyndhurst and Bournemouth and known locally as the Devil's Dyke near Burley.

"If you are a dog walker, a horse rider or someone else who has visited the New Forest during the past two days, have you seen someone matching Mr Marsh's description?"

A family friend of Mr Marsh said he was prescribed medication for depression.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said: "Somewhere down the line, someone has failed because they knew he was on medication.

"He was on tablets, but he never took them."

The man, whose children were at school with Mr Marsh, said he last saw him just before Christmas with mother Wendy near the Myrtle Avenue home he shared with Miss Bellinger.

He said: "I saw them in the car and said hello. He seemed in good spirits."

The friend, who said Mr Marsh's father is a former police detective, said of the tragedy: "I just feel numb really. It's such a sad thing to happen."

Police confirmed the couple also had a two-year-old son called Charlie.

A post-mortem examination has been taking place today on the body of Miss Bellinger and one on the baby's body is scheduled for tomorrow.

Search teams have been looking in drains and bushes around the couple's property today for a murder weapon. Forensics officers remain at the house, which has been cordoned off by police tape.

Flowers for Miss Bellinger and her daughter have been left at the scene by well-wishers. A message on one bouquet read: "Such a waste of life. My heart goes out to all the family.

"Rest in peace little angels. Our deepest sympathy."

Marsh has gone missing before, visiting towns including Brighton and Plymouth, but his whereabouts remain unknown.

He is described as white, 6ft 2ins, with short fair hair, brown eyes, of slim build and has a tattoo on his left forearm.

One and a half years ago, Mr Marsh sparked a police hunt after vanishing from the family home, according to the Southern Daily Echo.

The former British Gas customs relations adviser was reunited with his family after he was spotted in Weymouth, the newspaper said.

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