Death of woman, 79, found in house fire treated as murder

The death of a 79-year-old woman found dead in her home following a fire is being treated as murder, police said.

Post mortem results showed that Norma Bell had died before the fire began at her house in Hartlepool, where she had lived for 27 years.

The mum-of-three, who also cared for more than 50 foster children, was due to celebrate her 80th birthday next month.

Her family released a statement saying her death is "heartbreaking" and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Police were called to the house fire on Westbourne Road at around 8.25am on Sunday morning.

A post mortem investigation found that she died before the fire.

Announcing the investigation, Cleveland Police appealed for anyone who might have seen something or anyone with private CCTV to come forward.

Detective Superintendent Alastair Simpson said: "Our thoughts are with Norma's family and friends at this incredibly distressing time."

  • Anyone with information can call Cleveland Police on 101 or, to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.