Murder inquiry launched following Chidham house fire deaths

THE deaths of an elderly couple in a house fire are being treated as murder.

Monday, 8th February 2016, 5:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2016, 6:22 am
The scene of the blaze

Sussex Police have launched the double murder investigation following the discovery of a couple in their bungalow in Chidham on Saturday.

Post-mortem examinations took place yesterday and revealed the elderly couple both died from neck and head injuries.

Detectives say a man who is critically ill in hospital suffering from severe burns is a potential suspect.

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Detective Chief Inspector Tanya Jones, from Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said: ‘We are treating this as a murder investigation and are following several lines of enquiry. It appears the couple were attacked before their home was set alight.

‘We are supporting the family of the couple who we believe have died in Chidham and are working with colleagues from the fire service along with forensic and crime scene investigators to establish the circumstances.

‘We are waiting to talk to a man who is being treated in hospital for severe burns and we believe this may be connected. He had attended an address in Rotherfield on Saturday lunchtime from where he was transferred to hospital.

‘The information we have so far has led us to treat this man, who is known to the couple, as a potential suspect in our investigation. He has not been arrested as he remains critically ill in hospital.

‘This is a tragic incident and we are appealing to anyone in the area who might have seen or heard anything suspicious in Maybush Drive between 9am on Friday and 8.35am when the fire started on Saturday morning.’

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were called to the property.

A man and woman, understood to be in their 70s, not their 90s as reported yesterday, were found in the property and were declared dead at the scene.

Chief Inspector Justin Burtenshaw, district commander for Chichester, said: ‘We want to do all we can to reassure the local community and have neighbourhood policing team available in Chidham to speak to residents about their concerns.’

Anyone with information to contact police on [email protected] quoting Operation Glengarry.