Flamstead villagers pull together as murder investigation continues

PUBLISHED: 17:37 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:37 31 July 2019

A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead  was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.

A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.

Archant

A neighbourhood remains in shock days after a village became the scene of a murder investigation - but the community has pulled together with a special church vigil.

A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead  was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.

Police were first called to the village of Flamstead at 7.45pm on Saturday, July 27 after a woman was reported missing by her family members.

Officers subsequently forced their way into one of the four almshouses on the High Street and found Christine Ford suffering from multiple injuries.

The 71-year-old was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

A 64-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder on Monday, July 29 and remains in custody. He has not yet been charged and is currently receiving medical assistance.

A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead  was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.

Officers are guarding the property - which is cordoned off with police tape - and a forensic tent is stationed nearby.

Reporters from national media organisations have been on the scene throughout the week.

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The BBC has reported that Christine was a former hairdresser and carer who had moved to the village from the Isle of Wight 10 years ago.

A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead  was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.

One of her neighbours, who did not want to be named, said: "I felt disbelief. We came here 40 years ago. You wouldn't expect it in a village like this. I was totally unaware of it until my friend called me."

A resident of Priory Orchard said "it is a very sad day for the village", and a woman who works near the victim's house added: "This is traumatic - people are in disbelief".

Paul Williams, who lives nearby in River Hill, said: "On Saturday, I went into St Albans, came back and went for a pint in The Spotted Dog. I didn't see anything unusual. I am absolutely shocked - nothing like this has ever happened here. I think there has been the odd burglary, that's it."

The village held a vigil on Tuesday at the medieval church of St Leonard's in the High Street. Flowers were laid and candles were lit in memory of Christine, said to be a regular church-goer.

A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead  was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.A 71-year-old woman who lived in the almshouses in Flamstead was pronounced dead on Saturday July 27.

On Monday, the vicar, Reverend Tom Sander said on social media: "Tomorrow (Tuesday) from 8pm St Leonard's will be open for a vigil of light to gather ourselves in a place where hope is found. I will say a few words at 8.30pm. Candles will be available and you may place flowers if you wish. Everyone welcome."

The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit has launched a murder investigation and is conducting extensive enquiries into the circumstances around Christine's death. Investigating Det Supt Joanne Walker said: "This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are very much with Christine's family at this difficult time.

"They are being supported by specially-trained family liaison officers and we are doing everything we can to determine the events that led up to her death."

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