Police hunt for body of 'murdered' guesthouse owner

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The Independent Online

Detectives were hunting today for the body of a wealthy guesthouse owner believed to have been murdered following a bitter divorce battle involving a pre-nuptial agreement.

Joanna Brown, who runs an award-winning bed and breakfast in Ascot, Berkshire, was reported missing at 8am on Monday after vanishing from her sprawling country mansion.

Officers from Thames Valley Police's major crime team arrested a man in his 40s from the Windsor area of Berkshire on suspicion of murdering twice-married Mrs Brown, 46.

He was named locally as her second husband, British Airways pilot Robert Brown.

A close friend of Mrs Brown, who wished to remain anonymous, said the couple separated three years ago and were going through a bitter divorce.

She was from a privileged background and was described as fun and outgoing.

Mr Brown worked his way up from a working-class childhood to become a pilot. His father was a docker in Edinburgh.

The couple married 11 years ago and had two children, an 11-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl.

Mrs Brown's friend said Mr Brown is a quiet and proud man.

Tun Cottage was converted into a guest house following the separation. There is a large pond at the rear of the property.

Forensic investigators have cordoned off the house and grounds of Tun Cottage, which borders Windsor Great Park, and are hunting for clues surrounding Mrs Brown's disappearance.

The mock-Tudor guest house - worth in the region of £3 million - is described on its website as "a beautiful English country home" and has been awarded a 4* Gold Award by Visit Britain.

Mrs Brown was understood to have lived at the mansion for 12 years before turning it into the upmarket guest house two years ago.

A police spokesman said: "Thames Valley Police has arrested a man in his 40s from the Windsor area on suspicion of murder.

"The arrest follows a call received by police shortly before 8am yesterday following concerns for the welfare of a woman from the Ascot area.

"At this time, officers are yet to locate the woman, who is aged in her 40s."

The suspect remained in custody at Maidenhead police station today, where he is being questioned by detectives.