Murder hunt launched to find firework killer

A murder hunt was under way today after a devoted mother of nine died saving her son from a house fire started by a firework pushed through her letterbox.





Mary Fox, 59, was trapped in her bedroom after reportedly pushing her 17-year-old son Raum to safety through an upstairs window.



Officers are investigating claims that Raum, who has learning difficulties, was being bullied at school and that the family had been targeted by youths who had been throwing fireworks in the street.



Police said they had launched a murder investigation after the remnants of a firework were found behind the front door of Mrs Fox's house in Carpenter Court, Bodmin, in Cornwall.



Last night, Mrs Fox's family paid tribute to their "loving and caring" mother who devoted her life to her children and "would give her last penny" to help people in need.



A team of officers conducted house-to-house enquiries yesterday and collected the remains of fireworks found in the street for potential evidence.



After leaping from the three-storey house Raum ran to alert neighbours that his mother was still trapped inside.



He was taken to Treliske Hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation and he was being looked after last night by his eight brothers and sisters.



Firefighters arrived within minutes of a 999 call at around 7.15pm on Thursday. They found Mrs Fox dead in the same room from where her son escaped.



Speaking at a press conference at Bodmin police station yesterday, Superintendent Martin Orpe warned the people responsible that police would find them.



"I am appealing to those people involved in this to do the decent thing and come forward to the police," he said.



"If not, I am confident from what I have seen that we will be knocking on their doors shortly.



"I would ask them to come forward, and anyone who knows fact in relation to this incident - not rumour, because there is a lot of rumour going around Bodmin - to come forward."



Mr Orpe said police were "following up leads that the family were being targeted" and are speaking to the school attended by Raum over allegations that he was being bullied.



Police later issued a statement confirming the Fox family had made no complaints about harassment to the Devon and Cornwall force.



Superintendent Orpe said: "The police can confirm that they have had no calls to the address in relation to any incident regarding bullying or intimidation involving the occupants."



Police said there were many people around at the time the fire broke out attending a nearby organised bonfire and fireworks display.



Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Paul Burgan said there had been speculation about those responsible posted over the internet.



"We are keeping an open mind at the moment. There are names being bandied around on social networking sites but this is innuendo. We need to deal with factual evidence and get the information direct.



"I would say to them that if it was a harmless prank please come forward.



"A lot of people will give us information and we will find those individuals responsible, so it would be in their interests to come forward at the earliest opportunity."



In addition to Raum, Mrs Fox had eight other children aged between 20 and their mid-thirties.



In a statement, the family said: "We, the sons and daughters of Mary, would like to thank everyone for their kind words at this difficult time.



"We would also like to say a huge thank you to the fire service who tried to rescue our mother from this horrific fire that makes no sense.



"Our mum devoted her life to us her nine children and went without herself to provide the best that she could for us.



"She was at times, shall we say, eccentric, she had a sense of humour and was loving and caring.



"She never did anything to hurt anyone and never would. She would give her last penny to help those in less fortunate circumstances than herself."



Flowers were left at the burned-out house in tribute to Mrs Fox.



Neighbours said Mrs Fox may have been trying to save her cat when the fire took hold.



Kerry Ollerenshaw, 36, said: "Mary was a little, polite, nice old lady that I would say hello to.



"She had a cat. People say that her son had learning difficulties, he was constantly with his mum.



"Everyone is shocked because you do not expect this to happen.



"But this isn't a bad estate, it is no worse than any other estate anywhere else in the country, you get bad apples everywhere."



Neighbour Doreen Rowe, 59, told the Western Morning News: "I'm devastated about what has happened, Mary was a dear old soul and a hero.



"There was loads of kids on the street armed with fireworks.



"She was not the only one targeted because my next door neighbour had one thrown at her house too."



Brett Millington, 17, said Raum had recently moved from Bodmin College to St Austell College because of bullying.



"He was badly bullied. It wasn't all physical but a lot of psychological abuse he suffered," he said.



"When he was at Bodmin, his mum would walk him to school every day because the bullying was so bad. But if anything, that just made it worse."



Following a meeting last night between representatives from Bodmin College, St Austell College, social services, mental health, housing, children's, schools' and families' services, Mr Orpe said there was no "obvious evidence" that either Mary or Raum had been victims of bullying.



He said: "Initial enquires have revealed that there are no mental health issues in relation to either the deceased, Mary Fox, or her son Raum.



"However, it is fair to say that Mary could have been regarded as eccentric.



"In relation to evidence of intimidation and bullying towards either Mary or Raum, again there is no obvious evidence that has come out of this meeting.



"To suggest that earlier press reports regarding the systematic intimidation or bullying of either of them was a cause of this incident is purely speculation and is unfounded at this time."



Witness are asked to call police on 08452 777444 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution