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Murder probe after death of Morningside pensioner

Police forensic units pictured at Morningside Grove. Picture: Scott Louden

Police forensic units pictured at Morningside Grove. Picture: Scott Louden

POLICE have launched a murder investigation following the death of an 85-year-old woman who was attacked and stabbed in her Edinburgh home two weeks ago.

Eleanor Whitelaw was found by her husband when he returned to their Morningside home from a trip to the shops on 11 July.

Police Scotland said yesterday that the incident was now being treated as murder.

The pensioner, who suffered from dementia, sustained serious injuries during the attack at her home in Morningside Grove and died on Monday night at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where she was being treated for her injuries.

Robert Buczek, 23, was charged with attempted murder and assault to severe injury and danger of life when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court earlier on Monday.

He made no plea or declaration and was remanded in custody.

The assault shocked the local community and police flooded the area with officers after the incident.

Ms Whitelaw suffered blunt-force trauma to her chest and face, stab wounds to her body and a cut to her neck during the assault.

In the days after the attack, a heavy police presence was maintained in the area. The street was sealed off, with only residents allowed to pass through a closely patrolled police cordon, signing in or out and giving their name and address when coming or going.

It is understood that worshippers at Morningside Parish Church said a special prayer for Mrs Whitelaw at a service after she was attacked.

A week later, a team of officers returned to the area and stopped cars and buses, questioning drivers, passengers and pedestrians in an effort to gather evidence and jog the memories of potential witnesses.

Detectives said they had spoken to several hundred people and were trying to find those in the locality who might have spotted something unusual or untoward.

Following the news that Mrs Whitelaw had died in hospital, Edinburgh South Labour MP, Ian Murray, said: “Our thoughts go out to her husband, family, neighbours and friends. This incident shocked the local area but we thank the police for apprehending a suspect and for their continued reassurance.”

He added: “These terrible incidents are very rare but I will work with the local community to ensure people are and feel safe.”

Janet McLean, a neighbour who lived hear the Whitelaws, described the pensioner as “a very nice lady”.

She said: “She was very polite, jolly – she spoke to everybody. She was really very nice.”

Mrs Whitelaw’s son, Professor Bruce Whitelaw, works at the Roslin Institute in the city, where Dolly the cloned sheep was created in 1996.

Prof Whitelaw is deputy director and head of division of developmental biology at Edinburgh University’s Easter Bush campus.

In a statement, Police Scotland said: “The 85-year-old subsequently passed away within the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh on Monday evening.”

Confirming that the case was now a murder investigation, they added: “A 23-year-old man has made a first appearance at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.”

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