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Dog breeder murder probe linked to string of burglaries in picturesque village
2 March 2022, 09:10
A "loving and caring" pensioner was found dead in her village bungalow after a suspected break-in, a day after attempted raids on nearby homes.
Valerie Freer, 68, was found dead at the bungalow in Whittington, near Lichfield, Staffordshire, she shared with husband Derek, 72, for around 20 years.
The couple are not believed to have had any children, but in a statement released through police her wider family paid tribute to Mrs Freer's "illuminating smile and infectious laughter.
"Words cannot even begin to describe how truly devastated we are too have lost our wonderful Val.
"An incredibly beautiful lady both inside and out, she was always so loving and caring to all those around her.'Val is loved infinitely by family and friends around the world. She will be hugely missed, remaining forever in our hearts."
Mrs Freer was a renowned breeder of Samoyed dogs, one of whom, Champion Nikara Dancer, was reserve Best in Show at Crufts in 2014.
A 26-year-old man arrested on suspicion of her murder remains in custody.
Police said Mrs Freer's death is being linked to a number of incidents in the area since February 9, including the two aggravated burglaries.
Officers have appealed for information about a red Peugeot 208 that is thought to have been in the area between February 9 and 24.
The force said the vehicle was hired in London on February 9 and is believed to have been driven by a white man, of slim build said to have thick dark hair and a foreign accent.
Detective Superintendent Tom Chisholm, head of the Major Investigation Department at Staffordshire Police, said: "We know that this incident will have deeply shocked the community and that is why work is continuing at pace to understand the timeline of events and the circumstances prior to Mrs Freer's death.
"We need to understand the movements of the red Peugeot 208 which we believe had been in the area between 9 and 24 February.
"Anyone who saw anything out of the ordinary in the area, or a vehicle or person/s they didn't recognise in the village between those dates is asked to contact us as soon as possible."