Valerie Graves murder: Police deployed to 'reassure residents'

Valerie Graves Image copyright Sussex Police

Extra police will be deployed to a West Sussex village to reassure residents, a year after a woman was bludgeoned to death as she house-sat for friends.

Artist Valerie Graves, 55, was found dead by her sister at a property in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, on 30 December.

She had been repeatedly hit with a claw hammer, suffering significant head and facial injuries.

Ch Insp Justin Burtenshaw said extra Sussex officers would be in Smugglers Lane and Bosham Lane on Monday night.

The force said it was also deploying officers in the area throughout Monday and Tuesday to allow anyone with information about Ms Graves' murder to speak to them.

Det Supt Nick May said: "We need the public's help to catch this person before they hurt someone else and to get justice for Valerie and her family.

"Since the murder, officers have interviewed more than 9,500 people, of which 8,000 of these were during the house-to-house enquiries, and taken 580 statements as part of the investigation, but feel there may still be witnesses with important information who have not yet come forward."

'Christmas on hold'

Christmas Day would have been Ms Graves' birthday.

Her son Tim Wood, 32, said the family's festivities were "on hold" until her killer had been found.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption The hammer believed to have been used in the attack was found near the scene

Ms Graves was killed while staying at a house with her mother Eileen, her sister Jan and her sister's partner, Nigel Acres, while the owners were on holiday.

She had gone to bed at 22:00 on 29 December and was found dead in a ground-floor bedroom the next morning.

She had recently moved back to Sussex from Scotland to help care for her elderly mother in Bracklesham Bay.

Despite a £20,000 reward, the involvement of the National Crime Agency, a BBC Crimewatch appeal and a limited DNA profile of a suspect, no-one has been charged in connection with the inquiry.

A 22-year-old man arrested in January over the murder was freed without charge in March.

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