A woman who was bludgeoned to death in her flat was probably savagely whipped before her murder, police revealed yesterday.
Detectives found numerous lash marks - believed to have been from a rope - on the naked buttocks and legs of Jacqui Moore, 37, whose body was discovered on Thursday morning in the village of Broomhill, near Amble, Northumberland.
Police yesterday described the murder as "sickening" and "horrendous". They also disclosed that more than one person may have been involved.
Pathologists believe the numerous lashes were probably carried out before Mrs Moore was killed in her sitting room. Further tests are being carried out. She died after being struck on the head with a blunt instrument at least 11 times.
Mrs Moore's mother yesterday complained that her daughter had started to mix with a new crowd of people and that all-night drug and drink parties were held at her flat, allegations the police are investigating. They are also looking at reports that local youths teased Mrs Moore, possibly because she moved and spoke slowly.
Mrs Moore lived on her own at the flat where she had been for the past two months. She is not believed to have had a boyfriend and split up with her husband four years ago. She has a seven-year-old daughter who lives with her grandmother.
Neighbours told the police they had not heard any unusual noises the night before the discovery of her body, but one person told police that screaming was heard at about 12.30am.
The police said yesterday that there was no evidence that Mrs Moore had been tied up while the lashing was being carried out, which suggests that someone else may have held her down.
Detective Superintendent John Renwick said: "The head injuries themselves were horrific but the other injuries must have been inflicted over some period of time."
The marks left on her flesh showed that "if she was conscious, the blows must have caused her serious pain". No motive had been established, he added, and there were no obvious suspects.
Jacqui's mother, Blanche Hattel, said yesterday that her daughter had been a "nice, quiet girl", before she met a new crowd of people.
"People were in and out of the flat at all times of the day and night. They got her to sell her furniture for next to nothing to buy drugs for herself and for them," she said. "They were drinking and taking drugs all night," she added.Reuse content