Two arrested after missing son found dead

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Two men have been arrested after police searching for missing James Hughes found a body, two days after the body of his mother Heather Wardle was discovered.

Mr Hughes, who has the mental age of an 18-month-old child, and his mother, 39-year-old Heather Wardle, were reported missing from their home in Loxley Close in the Church Hill area of Redditch on Saturday.

West Mercia Police said that the two men had been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Superintendent Jane Horwood said: "The body was discovered this afternoon at a property in the Church Hill area of the town.

"Officers have cordoned off the immediate area. A post mortem is under way to establish the cause of death and arrangements are being made for formal identification.

"Two men have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of James Hughes and are currently helping police with their inquiries at Kidderminster and Redditch police stations."

Teenagers found Ms Wardle's body on Monday in an area of "dense undergrowth" off Winyates Way, just minutes from the family home. She was found with a ligature around her neck at the base of a tree, police said.

Ms Wardle had been missing since Friday, when she said she was going to visit a nearby friend, but never arrived.

Detectives believe she is likely to have died within 24 hours of the last public sighting of her late on Friday.

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: "A post-mortem took place on Tuesday afternoon and, while the results of toxicology tests are awaited, police are today able to confirm Heather was found with a ligature around her neck at the base of a tree."

Ms Wardle's partner, Brian Kirby, paid tribute to her as a "brilliant mother" who doted on her children.

In a statement released by police, Mr Kirby said he was "devastated" to learn of her death.

He said he had been Ms Wardle's long-term partner after getting to know her when she moved next door to his sister almost 16 years ago.

He then moved in with her and they were engaged within a year, although they never married.

In his statement, Mr Kirby described his partner as a chatty, bubbly person who was full of character and got on well with neighbours and his family.

He said she was a brilliant mother to her children, James, Daniel, aged 17, Callum aged eight and six-year-old Luke.

Ms Wardle was very houseproud and despite the demands placed on her in looking after her disabled son around the clock, always ensured that all of her children were clean and well clothed, Mr Kirby said.

The 36-year-old toolroom supervisor added: "Her priorities were the family and the house.

"She was an excellent mother and really lovely."

Mr Kirby, who works for an automotive company, also told how the family often went on days out, enjoying visits to theme parks such as Alton Towers and other places such as Twycross Zoo and Drayton Manor Park.

Locally, they often went to the Arrow Valley Country Park in Redditch.

Ms Wardle had worked as a press operator for an engineering company at Batchley, Redditch, but left when she became pregnant with Callum.

Mr Kirby also revealed that more recently she had considered going back to work as a respite carer, having had direct experience through looking after James.

He said he had been shocked at the manner of her death and that the children had all been devastated when he broke the news to them yesterday.

"It's heartbreaking," he said. "It's very hard to accept and take in. That wasn't the Heather I know. It's hurting me and the kids are also heartbroken and desperately missing her.

"It's absolutely terrible and she will be sorely missed."

Mr Kirby, who also praised his partner for helping him to get over the death of his father in March, went on: "She was great, she was my star."

A white tent could be seen at the back of one of the terraced houses, believed to be the home of Ms Wardle.

Nathan Conway, 20, who lives in the next close and knew Ms Wardle's son Daniel, said: "I saw Daniel two days ago but he did not speak. I saw him on the night his mother was found. He was crying and playing his music on his phone. It's such a shock.

"He said he had spoken to his mum not that long ago."