‘Horrendous' murder of woman, 86, may have been burglary, police say

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A “horrendous” incident which saw the murder of an 86-year-old woman and a town councillor being left for dead may have been a burglary, police have said.

Derbyshire Police said no arrests had yet been made in connection with the death of Freda Walker.

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Mrs Walker’s widower, Shirebrook Town councillor Ken, aged 88, was found with life-threatening injuries after paramedics were called to the couple’s home in Station Road, Langwith Junction, Shirebrook, near Bolsover, early on Saturday.

He is currently in a critical condition in hospital, police said.

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‘Horrendous’ murder of woman, 86, may have been burglary, police say
© Provided by PA Media Officers were still present at Station Road in Langwith Junction on Monday (Derbyshire Police/PA)

Speaking at the scene on Monday, Assistant Chief Constable Dave Kirby said: “At 9.30am on Saturday January 15 police were called by paramedics to this address on Station Road at Langwith Junction, reporting that two people had been seriously injured, one man and one woman.

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“Eighty-six-year-old Freda Walker was pronounced dead at the scene and 88-year-old Kenneth Walker was found to be seriously injured, and he’s currently in hospital in a critical condition.

“Freda was killed, and Ken was left for dead, and we will be asking for your help in identifying who was responsible.

“The family of Ken and Freda have been informed and they are being supported by specially trained officers, but I would ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”

Confirming no arrests had been made in connection with the incident, Mr Kirby said: “Officers remain here at the scene and they will remain here for some time while the investigation is progressed and while forensic examinations are carried out.

“At this time, we haven’t made any arrests, however we can say we are not treating this as a domestic incident.

“There are several lines of inquiry being followed and one of those is that this may have been a burglary but of course, we are keeping an open mind.

“Understandably, this is a horrendous incident for the local community and our thoughts are with everybody who is affected, but particularly with the friends and family of Ken and Freda.

“I would like to reassure the community that every necessary resource from the force and from the regional East Midlands Special Operations Unit are working together 24 hours a day to find out who is responsible and to establish the full facts of what happened.”

Addressing whether links had been made to other offences in the area, Mr Kirby told reporters: “We are of course looking at any incidents which might be linked to this tragic incident, and looking at how we can tie those investigations together.

“However, at this time, we haven’t formally linked any other incidents.”

Concluding his statement, the officer said: “The person responsible for this crime has not yet been apprehended, that said, we don’t believe that there’s currently any ongoing threat in this local area specifically.

“Our advice would always be to keep doors and windows secure as a general crime prevention policy.”

The leader of Bolsover District Council, Steve Fritchley, described the incident as “upsetting” and paid tribute to the victims.

Mr Fritchley, who represents the Langwith ward, said: “This is shocking news.

“It is terrible when something like this happens, but it really hits home when it happens on your doorstep and to someone you know.

“It’s very upsetting and I was quite angry over the weekend.

“Ken and Freda were in their own home, a place where everyone deserves to be and feel safe, only to be attacked and ultimately bringing Freda’s life to a premature end.

“We have heard many people say ‘oh Ken and Freda, what a lovely couple’ and they really were.

“This has sent shockwaves through the local community.”

Mr Fritchley added: “I worked alongside Ken for many years on both the district and town council.

“Ken’s dedication and service to the public was an example to all.

“He always wanted to help people, do his best for the local community and he admirably represented the authority as chair for 10 years, promoting the council and district to whoever he could.

“Freda was lovely.

“Always wanting to help people, always had the time of day to say ‘hello’ and speak to them as they walked past.

“She will be sorely missed by her family, friends and the local community.

“Ken retired from being a district councillor in 2019 and just when they should both be enjoying their twilight years together, this terrible incident has happened, and our thoughts are with Ken and his family.”

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