A murder investigation has been launched after a 60-year-old woman was found stabbed to death in a luxury home.
Sadie Hartley, 60, who is believed to be a company director, was found with multiple stab wounds at her £500,000 property after her colleagues raised the alarm.
She had last been seen at a conference in Manchester on Thursday and concerned colleagues contacted the police on Friday night after she failed to turn up for work.
Her family say they last heard from her on Thursday evening. Police found her at the five-bedroomed detached property she lives at in the village of Helmshore, Lancashire, and have launched a murder investigation.
Neighbours say the area has been plagued by crime in recent months, with burglaries and thefts of high performance cars. Martin Frost, 40, said: “The whole village is in shock. This isn’t the sort of thing that happens around here.
“There had been a spate of car crime recently and I don’t know if it’s connected but we’ve never had anything like this. The house has been burgled in the past too.
“They’ve had a team here with poles searching down drains. I’m not sure if they’re looking for a weapon but it’s bizarre to see so many police around here.
“There must have been at least 30 of them earlier doing door-to-door enquiries. They asked to see my CCTV but unfortunately it’s not working.
“It’s terribly sad for the woman and her family. I believe she’s only lived there for about a year.”
Last August burglars broke into a neighbouring property while the occupants were asleep and stole the owner’s keys and cars.
Phil Lawson,39, said: “There’s been a lot of burglaries around here recently. “I’ve lived here 30 years and never would have expected anything like this to happen.”
It is believed she had lived in the property for just over a year. The police say it is too early to know if she knew her attacker.
Detective Superintendent Andy Murphy of the Force Major Investigation Team said: “We are in the early stages of our enquiries and are working to establish exactly how Sadie has come about these injuries. We have a large team of detectives dedicated to following all lines of enquiry.
“Specialist officers are supporting Sadie’s family at this difficult time.
“I would urge anyone with information about Sadie’s death to please get in contact with us at your earliest opportunity.” A post mortem examination to establish the cause of death will take place in due course
Tony Haworth, a Conservative councillor for the village, said: “It’s come as a real shock to people in Helmshore. “I spoke to the police about the investigation this morning but we have to be careful as they’re still in the early stages.
“It’s a close-knit community around here and we’re stunned that there could have been a murder on our doorstep.” A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We were called around 10.40pm last night following reports of concerns for a lady in Helmshore.
“We attended the address on Sunny Bank Road along with paramedics and a 60-year-old woman was found and pronounced deceased at the address.
“The death is being treated as suspicious. “The scene has been preserved and a cordon put in place.”