Derby

Handbag found in Jia Ashton murder inquiry

Jia Ashton
Image caption Jia Ashton was last seen leaving work at Thorntons on 10 March

The handbag of a 25-year-old woman who was found dead in woods has been found by detectives investigating her murder.

Jia Ashton was found in Sleetmoor Woods, Somercotes, near Alfreton, Derbyshire, on 13 March. She had died as the result of an assault.

Mrs Ashton had been returning home from her work at chocolate-maker Thorntons.

On Wednesday a 26-year-old man arrested in connection with the death was released without charge.

Officers said they had now recovered her handbag but said they believed her other belongings could still be missing.

Det Ch Supt Steve Cotterill said: "It was a painstaking search but we have recovered Mrs Ashton's handbag. It will now undergo forensic tests, the results of which we can expect next week.

"I can't be totally confident that all of Mrs Ashton's belongings are accounted for because we can't be sure exactly what property was in her bag when she left her work at Thorntons on the evening of her death."

No further details about the handbag, including where it was found, have been released.

Mrs Ashton, who was 4ft 10in tall, was last seen leaving work in nearby Swanwick about 1700 GMT on 10 March.

Facebook group

She had been wearing a grey herringbone-patterned coat with a zip-up front with the hood up, black trousers and black ankle boot-type trainers. She also wore a dark blue-grey scarf with a white diamond pattern.

She was reported missing by her husband on 11 March.

Police have said there was no evidence a weapon had been used and there was no apparent sexual assault.

About 90 officers and staff are involved in the investigation, Derbyshire Police said.

More than 1,000 people have joined a memorial group on Facebook called "Jia Ashton rest in peace".

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