Dartmoor Haytor deaths: Katherine Hooper 'slept on moor'

Katherine Hooper, Joshua (r), Samuel (l)
Image caption Katherine Hooper with Joshua and Samuel

A woman who fell to her death on Dartmoor with her five-year-old son may have slept rough on the moor the previous night, it has emerged.

Katherine Hooper, 24, and Joshua Patterson died after falling 80-100ft (24-30m) at Haytor last Friday.

A murder investigation was launched after Ms Hooper's son Samuel, two, was found dead at her home in Paignton.

Police said Ms Hooper had taken a taxi to the area on Dartmoor on the day before she died.

A child's booster seat belonging to her was found in a nearby quarry, said police.

'Crucial hours'

Det Sgt Andy James said: "We know that Katherine and Joshua arrived at Haytor last Thursday morning and died the next day.

"We now believe that they may have spent the night sleeping rough at Haytor, possibly at the quarry where the booster seat was found.

"We are appealing for help from the public to piece together those final hours and we are keen for any sightings of them during that crucial 24 hours."

Police will be at Haytor on Thursday and Friday to "jog the memory of anyone" who was in the area at the same time last week.

Ex-partner trial

Mr James said: "We would urge anyone who may have seen Katherine and Joshua to contact police with any information, however small, as this may be vital to the inquiry."

Unemployed Ms Hooper was last seen wearing a blue and white hooped jumper, black trousers and black boots with a two or three inch heel. Her dark shoulder-length hair was tied back.

Dark-haired Joshua was wearing a blue top, white or light-coloured shorts and brown ankle boots.

Devon and Cornwall Police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

The family were known to social services and a serious case review has been launched into their care.

Ms Hooper's former partner, Neil Patterson, 52, is facing trial for allegedly attacking her in April.

Ms Hooper, originally from Widecombe in the Moor on Dartmoor, was the subject of a police search earlier in the year after she went missing for 24 hours.

Inquests into the deaths of Ms Hooper and her sons have been opened at the coroner's office in Torquay Hospital.

Torbay and South Devon Coroner Ian Arrow was told the causes of the deaths would be known after further examination of the bodies.

The inquests were adjourned to a date to be fixed.

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