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New appeal on fifth anniversary of Bosham murder

Sussex Police have launched a renewed appeal for information about the murder of a grandmother who was bludgeoned to death while house-sitting.

Valerie Graves, 55, was found dead in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, exactly five years ago today.

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

Despite a high profile investigation and voluntary mass DNA screening, the killer has so far not been found.

Richard Slee reports:

Ms Graves, a mother of two, was last seen alive at about 10pm on 29 December.

There were no signs of a struggle but a post-mortem examination found she had sustained severe head injuries after being hit with a claw hammer, probably around midnight.

Officers found the weapon 600 metres from the house in Hoe Lane.

Police at the property in 2013 Credit: ITV Meridian

A detailed investigation, including an exhaustive forensic search of the crime scene, allowed forensic scientists to obtain a limited DNA profile, which although not suitable for a search on the National DNA Database indicated the suspect is male.

Credit: ITV Meridian

In 2015 the force launched its biggest voluntary mass DNA screening in its history, asking all men aged over 17 who live, work or visit Bosham to provide a DNA sample to eliminate them from the inquiry.

To date 2,819 DNA samples have been taken.

No match has yet been found.

Valerie's family appealed for information on the first anniversary of her death. Credit: ITV Meridian

Chief Superintendent Jason Taylor said: "Officers and staff from the investigation team remain determined to find Valerie's killer five years on and to get justice for her and her family. We continue to do everything reasonably possible to achieve this.”

"We are still offering a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Valerie's killer and I would ask anyone who has information to contact police."

Valerie's family said: "We would also urge anyone with any information about Valerie's death to come forward and contact police or Crimestoppers."