Detectives are hunting a 70 year-old sex offender after a woman was found dead at his home.
Police have warned the public not to approach Richard Scatchard, who was previously convicted of sexual offences in which he drugged his victims.
Detectives want to speak to him after discovering the body of Kelly Faiers, 61, in Minehead on Sunday.
Scatchard spoke to officers initially but vanished before they could return to question him again about the death. He was last seen in Minehead on October 16 but police concede now he “could be anywhere in the country”.
The “prolific” dating app user is wanted in connection with the murder investigation and is considered a risk to the public, especially the women he forms relationships with.
A forensic post-mortem examination to determine the cause of Ms Faiers’ death was inconclusive. Her death is currently being treated as suspicious while we await the results of further tests.
It’s believed Scatchard could be using a distinctive electric bicycle – a grey Gepida Alboin Curve which has a pink front tyre rim, flowers on the rim of the rear tyre and green and yellow electrical tape around the handlebars.
Scatchard is white, about 5ft 11ins tall, of average build with short grey hair.
DCI Jess Aston said there had been 24 sightings of Scatchard who speaks with a Scottish accent and has previously used the name Richard Dunlop.
She said: “Our thoughts are with Kelly’s family at this tragic time and we’re doing all we can to provide them with the answers they deserve.
“Officers attended Scatchard’s address on 15 October and returned the following afternoon to speak to him about the death but he had disappeared.
“His previous behaviour, along with information we have gathered since his disappearance, makes us anxious that he may have formed a new relationship with one or more women and that he presents a serious risk to their safety.
“Scatchard is a prolific user of dating apps and has previously been convicted of sexual offences in which he administered drugs to his victims to enable his crimes.”
Speaking to the suspect directly, she said: “Richard, if you see this, please do the right thing and hand yourself in.
“Our search has focused on the Minehead area however Scatchard could be anywhere in the country – we know he has recent links to Cornwall, Gwent and South Wales while previous links include the Cheshire and Leicestershire areas. If you can help, please get in touch.”
If you see Scatchard, do not approach, instead phone 999 and provide the call handler with the reference 5223251706.