THE MOTHER-OF-TWO found murdered at a house in the south of England was Valerie Graves, a well-known artist and textile designer in the Scottish Borders.
Graves, 55, suffered fatal head injuries at a £1.6 million seaside home in Bosham, West Sussex, while house- sitting for friends.
Sussex Police have questioned three family members who were staying with Ms Graves in the home in Smuggler’s Lane when she died, but it is understood her two grown-up children were not among them.
Ms Graves graduated with a BA in textile design at Heriot Watt University in Galashiels in 2007.
She then set up her own craft studio and gallery called Fin Taw at the Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre near Jedburgh where she specialised as a fibre artist making toy hares.
Her business was called Maukin the House of Hares and she staged workshops helping budding artists learn the craft.
But she left the area several months ago to move to the south coast of England to look after her frail 87-year-old mother Eileen.
At her empty terraced farm cottage near the Borders hamlet of Maxton, a neighbour said: “Val left several months ago to look after her mother.
“All her family live down south and she has not been here for months. I had never heard anything about this and it is very upsetting. I don’t really want to say anything else.”
An ambulance was called to the house, where Ms Graves was believed to be housesitting, at 9:50am on Hogmanay.
It is believed she was found by a relative, who raised the alarm.
A second property in West Sussex – in Bracklesham Bay – was also being searched by police. It is registered to her mother Eileen and neighbours said an elderly brother and sister lived there. The neighbour said: “They are just normal people – just keep themselves to themselves.”
Detective Superintendant Nick May, of Sussex Police, said on Tuesday that the incident was being treated as murder.
He said: “Valerie and some members of her family were housesitting at the address. The people who own the house are abroad on holiday. They are aware of what is going on.”
“There were four people in the house including Valerie, all family members. We have no-one in custody.”
The house, called Hove To, is in the rural outskirts of the small seaside village of Bosham, which was the setting for an episode of TV series Midsomer Murders. The property was last sold in June 2000 for £745,000 according to property websites.
It is listed on the electoral register as being occupied by a Malcolm, 66, and Caroline Chamberlain, 63, who are believed to have twin daughters.