A SEASIDE community has been rocked by the murder of a 55-year-old woman who was found dead at a home where she had been house-sitting with members of her family over Christmas.
Sussex Police, who have launched a murder inquiry, yesterday named the victim as Valerie Graves.
She was found dead on Monday morning having suffered a head injury at the detached house in Smuggler’s Lane, Bosham, near Chicester in West Sussex.
Detective Superintendant Nick May said that a cause of death had not been established and a post-mortem examination was to be carried out today.
He said Ms Graves had been housesitting with three of her relatives at the address in Bosham, which belonged to friends, when she was found dead.
Mr May added that Ms Graves had two grown-up children who lived elsewhere in the country and they had been informed of her death.
He said the investigation was following a number of lines of inquiry, including that she had been killed by a stranger. He would not confirm whether there were any signs of a break-in.
He said: “We are treating it as murder. There are a number of lines of inquiry which we are now pursuing.”
He added: “Valerie and some members of her family were housesitting at the address. They had arrived shortly before Christmas. The people who own the house are abroad on holiday.
“They are aware of what is going on.
“There were four people in the house including Valerie, all family members. We have no one in custody.”
A neighbour of the Smuggler’s Lane house, who did not wish to be named, said: “They (the owners) have people staying in the house while they are away for the holidays; it could be friends, it could be family.
“It is not rented out, people come because it is a nice place to visit.” A man who lives nearby said: “It’s shocking to happen here or anywhere.”
The house, called Hove To, is in the rural outskirts of the small seaside village of Bosham.
The property was last sold in June 2000 for £745,000 according to property websites.