Murder probe launched after Dartmoor deaths of mum and two children

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By Plymouth Herald

Saturday, July 13, 2013

POLICE are investigating whether a mother killed her two-year-old son at home before taking her five-year-old boy to a Dartmoor beauty spot where she jumped off rocks – killing them both.

The 24-year-old woman and her elder boy plunged 100ft to their deaths in front of visitors at Haytor rocks.

  1. Police vehicles at Haytor Dartmoor

    Police vehicles at Haytor Dartmoor

  2. Murder probe  launched after Dartmoor deaths

Later police visited her home in Paignton where they forced opened the door and found her younger son dead, sparking a murder inquiry covering the two incidents.

Detective Superintendent Paul Burgan, who leads Devon and Cornwall's Major Crime Team, said the woman had no other children and the father, who does not live locally, had been told of the deaths.

Det Sup Burgan said police were "keeping an open mind" but added they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the two incidents.

Devon and Cornwall Police received numerous calls from onlookers at the moorland beauty spot shortly before midday yesterday.

Foreign tourists who were on top of the tor when the incident occurred claimed the woman was standing on the edge of the precipice with the child on her back or shoulders and suggested she may have jumped.

Police initially said they were treating the deaths as unexplained but not suspicious, adding that they were not looking for anybody else.

Witnesses were taken to nearby Ashburton police station for interview to determine exactly what had happened.

Acting Chief Inspector (ACI) Adrian Leisk gave a press conference in which he said the incident remained "a mystery".

"Any incident involving a small child is particularly traumatic," he added.

"We are treating the death as unexplained and conducting a full and thorough investigation to determine how they came to be there and the circumstances leading up to their death.

"We have got people who were in the vicinity who we think can give us an idea of exactly what happened."

But when officers called at the mother's home, in Duke Close, they made the second grisly discovery and launched a murder inquiry.

Det Sup Burgan said there was "nothing obvious" at the address to suggest the cause of death, adding "there will be a thorough forensic examination".

"We were called to Haytor after reports of a woman falling from rocks with a boy believed to be her son," he said.

"Officers then attended her home, forced entry and found a second two-year-old boy believed to be the son of the deceased woman dead at the scene.

"We are keeping an open mind about all three deaths but at this early stage we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident."

Police and emergency services attended Lowman, the second of the two rocky peaks which make up Haytor rocks, the most famous landmark in the National Park.

The tor is accessible by foot and hand-holds from the road side but falls away to an 80 to 100ft drop at the rear.

Police, ambulance, the Devon Air Ambulance, Dartmoor Rescue Group and the police helicopter attended the scene.

The site was cordoned off and scenes of crime investigators could be seen combing the tor and surrounding area.

Ice cream salesman Chris Meanwell, 29, who runs the Molly Mac van at the upper Haytor car park, said his colleague at the bottom car park had broken the news to him.

"He heard a woman and a child had jumped off the tor – it is quite tragic and cannot have been a good experience for anyone who was up there," Mr Meanwell said.

"I arrived at 10am and it was a quiet day, the first thing I noticed was two police cars that came up, they both parked up and the officers came out with their first aid kit and they started jogging up the hill.

"Then ambulances started arriving along with more police cars and the air ambulance and I realised it must have been quite serious."

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  • Profile image for PLYMFOX01

    by PLYMFOX01

    Saturday, July 13 2013, 6:43PM

    “This is such a sad story. However may I say this, whatever the poor woman's problems why murder your two innocent children?”

  • Profile image for Nikgee

    by Nikgee

    Saturday, July 13 2013, 4:37PM

    “Very sad indeed. Though I already suspect, I would like to know... WHY?”

  • Profile image for foxtor

    by foxtor

    Saturday, July 13 2013, 4:00PM

    “So sad words fail me .foxtor”

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