Police hunt for killer of mother and children

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The Independent Online

A nationwide police hunt continued today for the killer of a woman and her two young children.

Ambulance workers discovered their bodies after a telephone operator listened as one of the children screamed into the phone: "Daddy's stabbing Mummy - my dad's gone mad."

The call ended suddenly and it is believed these were the child's last words.

The dead children, understood to be a girl of seven, and her six-year-old brother, were found upstairs in a house on Great Hollands estate in Bracknell, Berkshire. The body of their mother, Shazia Zaidi, a single parent, was found on the ground floor.

A police helicopter carrying heat-seeking equipment was drafted in to help search for the assailant. Detective Superintendent Trevor Davies, of Thames Valley CID, said: "We are making inquiries to trace the father of the children and the woman's former husband."

The sprawling Great Hollands housing estate is divided into numerous rat-run roads and a perimeter ring road. Roads around it were sealed off by police yesterday for the search.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said last night: "At 4.12pm today police officers from Bracknell attended an address in Great Hollands and on arrival they were confronted by three persons, one adult and two children, with fatal stab wounds."

Lee Moseley, 17, who lives on the estate, said he had seen Mrs Zaidi's younger brother, Hassan, who lived with the family, returning to the house from Bracknell College. The 16-year-old was walking home when he was stopped by two police officers and ushered to a squad car.

Mr Moseley said: "He was crying his eyes out. He just got home and asked what was going on. Before he had a chance to get in the house they grabbed his arms and took him away. He was saying: 'I live there. What's happened?' "

Speaking at the estate, a family friend said yesterday: "Shazia was a quiet girl. She was a social worker in Slough and she cared deeply about other people." The woman said that Mrs Zaidi had moved back to Bracknell to be close to her parents after she divorced her husband.

"It was an arranged Muslim marriage but Shazia was not forced into it. I was a guest at her wedding and, at the time, they were a wonderful couple. But after five years the marriage fell apart and they were divorced," she said.

Neighbours said that detectives had asked them if they had seen three men leaving the scene in a Nissan Sunny car.