Parents' plea over murdered Nikitta Grender

The grieving parents of a heavily pregnant teenager spoke today of their struggle to come to terms with her violent murder.

Nikitta Grender, 19, was found dead by firefighters called to a blaze at her flat in Newport, south Wales, on Saturday morning.

Neighbours in the community on the estate in Broadmead Park, Liswerry, where she lived, have spoken of their shock and anger at the killing.

Murder hunt detectives re-appealed for anyone, particularly close friends of the murdered woman, to come forward with information.

Now Miss Grender's parents have spoken out for the first time in a brief statement paying tribute to their daughter and unborn grand-daughter who was to be named Kelsey-May.

They also joined police by issuing their own appeal for public help in hunting down the murderer.

"As a close family we are trying to come to terms with the tragic events which have led to the untimely death of our beautiful daughter Nikitta and grand-daughter Kelsey-May," they said in the statement issued by Gwent Police.

"We wish to appeal for any persons with information to contact the police in an effort to find out why this has happened.

"We ask to be left alone at this time with Nikitta and Kelsey-May's family to come to terms, if possible, with the tragic events which have taken our daughter and grandchild from us."

Police confirmed today that the mother-to-be was murdered before the blaze was set at her flat, almost certainly in an effort to hide the killing.

Neighbours have told police that the flat's fire alarm was triggered at around 5.30am on Saturday.

Friends have said how Nikitta and her boyfriend had moved to the flat less than six months ago and were excited about becoming parents.

Details of her death triggered a wave of grief which quickly turned to anger when it was revealed she had been murdered.

Neighbours today warned that emotions are now running so high on the estate that people could take the law into their own hands.

Mother-of-four Christine Tovey, 26, warned that lack of police progress in finding the killer could trigger vigilante-style action in the community.

"I can see vigilantes coming in if the police do not find who did this," she said.

"I couldn't blame them if anyone did. Emotions are running so high around here. Life isn't fair anymore."

But police have underlined the extent of the major operation continuing in the Newport area.

Information is already coming forward from members of the public hoping to help catch the killer, but more is needed, Gwent Police said.

In a fresh appeal they said: "Specifically, police are appealing for any of Nikitta's friends and associates to come forward as they may have vital information."

Forensic investigators are already examining items taken from the scene of the murder.

CCTV footage from the area is also being scrutinised in the hope that it will offer a clue.

A total of 50 officers have been drafted in to work on the case with exhaustive house-to-house inquiries on-going.

Joint patrols with Neighbourhood Officers and community safety wardens, aimed at reassuring the community, have started up today.

Police are also distributing leaflets and using bluetooth technology to appeal to residents in the Broadmead Park area.

Specially trained officers are also supporting the family of the murdered mother.

"We have had calls from members of the public but we would like more information," a spokesman said.

"Specifically we would like to hear from anyone who knew Nikitta, who was in her circle of friends and wider associates - male or female - who spent time with her and perhaps had been to her flat at Broadmead Park.

"We are now fairly certain of Nikitta's whereabouts during the early part of the evening: she went, in her friend's car, to McDonald's, they then drove around the Newport and Cwmbran area and she then was back at the flat at approximately 1am on the Saturday morning.

"We know from a neighbour that the fire alarm went off at 5.30am. We now know that the fire was started after she was stabbed, probably to disguise the attack, so we are interested in anyone who knows of Nikitta's whereabouts or any visitors to the flat or any suspicious activity in the area between 1am and 5.30am to come forward and help with the inquiry.

"We have specialist officers supporting the family who are understandably distraught at the horrific events which have occurred over the last few days and our thoughts remain with them."

Superintendent Dave Johnson said: "Our officers are remaining at the scene not only to provide reassurance but also to speak to any members of the public who may have vital information about the investigation or any concerns.

"We are also patrolling with Newport City Council Community Safety Wardens and the mobile police office will remain in the vicinity."

A dedicated major incident room has been set up and if anyone has information they should call 01443 865562 to speak to a member of the enquiry team or call 01633 838111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.