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Breakthrough as police search for Valerie's killer

Valerie Graves, who was found dead at Bosham in Sussex Credit: Sussex Police

Detectives investigating the murder of Valerie Graves in Bosham believe they have made a breakthrough in the case.

Forensic scientists have obtained a limited DNA profile for the suspect, which means detectives can start requesting voluntary DNA samples to eliminate males from the investigation who live and work in the Bosham area, either permanently or as migrant workers. Officers will also be speaking to visitors in the area to eliminate them from the investigation.

Detective Superintendent Nick May, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team said: "This is a significant breakthrough for the investigation. Although this profile is not suitable for a search on the National DNA Database it does indicate the suspect is male. Anyone who provides us with a DNA sample could now be eliminated from the investigation.

"The profiling will involve taking a swab from the mouth and fingerprints from each individual. We are stressing that if anyone has any concerns or suspect they may know something, they can talk to our officers or Crimestoppers anonymously. We can rule out people whose names are suggested as being responsible for the murder by comparing their DNA with the sample.

"It is important for the public to understand that we will only use the samples obtained to check against this particular crime and their DNA profile will not appear on any database. Legal safeguards are in place to ensure we do not use them for any other purpose.

"Without the public's assistance this process would take many months to achieve."

Valerie was found dead with serious head and facial injuries at a house in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, on Monday December 30, 2013. The 55-year-old had been staying at the property while the owners were away over the Christmas period.

A significant investigation into the murder is continuing 10 months after Valerie was found dead in her bedroom in the house.

Chief Inspector Justin Burtenshaw, district policing commander for Chichester, said: "I want to reassure the community that this is part of the ongoing investigation as well as being an opportunity to actively help the enquiry team.

"Anyone who has any concerns can speak to our neighbourhood policing officers in the area."

A reward of up to £20,000 is now being offered jointly by Sussex Police and Crimestoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Valerie's killer.

Man arrested over Valerie Graves murder released without charge

A 22-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Valerie Graves and was due back on bail today has been released without charge.

The man was arrested on Tuesday, January 14th after Miss Graves was found dead in a house in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, on Monday 30 December.

She and other members of her family had been house sitting while the owners were away over Christmas.

Detectives, supported by neighbourhood policing officers, are knocking on the doors of more than 700 homes in the area in their effort to gather any information that can help them.

The Major Crime Team is also being advised by the National Crime Agency in order to provide further offender profiling. They are keeping an open mind as to the motive for Valerie's violent death.

Some local residents are obviously concerned and we want to do all we can to reassure them. I have ensured that extra patrols continue in the area and the neighbourhood policing team is available in Bosham to speak to residents about their concerns. In addition to the extra patrols there will be daily opportunities to speak to a local officer from 11am to 12 noon outside the Bosham Craft Centre in Bosham Lane and from 7-8pm outside the Co-op store in Delling Lane."

– Chief Inspector Justin Burtenshaw

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Reward for information on Bosham murder

It's a murder which has shocked a quiet community and puzzled detectives. But today a 10 thousand pound reward was offered to catch the killer of a grandmother battered to death as she stayed at a friend's luxury home.

Valerie Graves was found dead at the waterside property in Bosham near Chichester on December 30th. She was staying there over Christmas with her mother, sister and sister's partner.

Police say a hammer found near the house was used to kill Valerie. Sarah Cooper reports.

£10,000 for information on the murder of Valerie Graves

Detectives investigating the murder of Valerie Graves are offering a reward of £10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of her killer.

The 56-year-old was found with serious head and facial injuries in Smugglers Lane in Bosham on the 30th December.

She had been staying at the property while the owners were away over Christmas.

Since the murder, more than 200 people have been interviewed and over 100 statements have been taken, but police still feel there are witnesses with more important information that have not come forward.

Detective Superintendent Nick May said, "This was a savage attack, where a significant level of violence was used. We know that a hammer, found nearby in Hoe Lane, was used by the offender and we are seeking the public's help to catch this person before they hurt someone else.

"We particularly appeal to anyone who knows personally, has met professionally, or has a relationship with someone who is violent and who may have used, talked about or threatened violence with a hammer in the past.

"You may have your own concerns or suspicions about this person already, but for your own reasons have not yet come forward.Let me reassure you that we can support you whatever your concerns, but this person must be caught."

Anyone with information should ring 101 or email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk quoting Operation Ensign.

Valeri Graves was killed in December Credit: Sussex Police

Police release image of murder weapon: Police statement

Detective Superintendent Nick May from Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team said: "We need to know the origins of this hammer.

"Do you recognise it? We need people to check if they have lost such a hammer or had one stolen in the period leading up to the murder.

"We would also ask police officers, prison staff, probation officers and professionals who work in mental health, if they have dealt with anyone who has talked about causing someone harm with a hammer, to let us know.

"If so we would like to hear from you. We are continuing to appeal for any information from anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area from late afternoon on Sunday 29 December to 10am on Monday 30 December to come forward."

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Police release pictures of hammer used to murder woman in Sussex

This hammer was used to murder Valerie Graves Credit: Sussex Police

Police have released these photos of a hammer which they believe is the weapon used to kill Valerie Graves in Bosham.

It was found in Bosham by the search team working on the murder inquiry.

Police want to speak to anyone who recognises this hammer Credit: Sussex Police

Miss Graves was discovered dead in a ground-floor bedroom on the morning of Monday 30 December at the house in Smugglers Lane she was looking after with three other members of her family, while the owners were away.

She died from significant head and facial injuries.

Man released on police bail until February 17th

A man who was arrested in connection with the murder of a woman who was killed while house sitting for friends in West Sussex has been released on police bail.

Valerie Graves' body was found at the waterside property in Bosham on the 30th December.

The 22-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday night on suspicion of murder.

He will be released on bail until the 17th February.

Valerie had been house sitting with her family whilst her friends were away for Christmas.

Police say she had gone to bed at 10pm on Sunday 29th and was found dead by one of her family members at around 10am the next morning, in the bedroom where she had been sleeping.

22-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder

A man is being questioned in connection with the murder of a woman who was killed while house sitting for friends in West Sussex.

Valerie Graves' body was found at the waterside property in Bosham on the 30th December.

A 22-year-old man was arrested last night on suspicion of murder.

Valerie had been house sitting with her family whilst her friends were away for Christmas.

Police say she had gone to bed at 10pm on Sunday 29th and was found dead by one of her family members at around 10am the next morning, in the bedroom where she had been sleeping.

A post-mortem showed she had suffered significant head and facial injuries, but detectives have not confirmed what weapon had been used.