Wife left in wood is feared dead

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The body of Jacqueline Phillips may still be concealed in a remote Lincolnshire forest, five days after a volatile relationship became deadly, writes Jonathan Foster.

More than 200 police and soldiers have searched fruitlessly for two days in 10 square miles of dense woodland. When they resume today, they will have little hope of finding 26-year-old Mrs Phillips alive. All they have to go on is the clue left posthumously by her husband before a hosepipe was attached to his car's exhaust pipe.

John Phillips wrote a note before the fumes overcame him. He said he had harmed his wife, possibly killed her, and then left her by a road in woods near Market Rasen. He did not know whether she was dead or alive. That was on Tuesday morning, when a forestry worker found Mr Phillips dead in the family Cavalier, in woods near Peterborough.

The couple married four years ago. Mr Phillips was 15 years older than his wife, who had a son, Jonathan, now seven, from another relationship. John Phillips brought the boy up as his own son, neighbours in Stainforth, South Yorkshire, said yesterday. They said Mrs Phillips had a "bubbly" personality, but the marriage became strained after she got a job managing a fast-food restaurant in Doncaster.

Mrs Phillips moved out with Jonathan, renting a house near her parents and, when divorce papers arrived from the solicitor, her husband cracked.