Police have appealed for information about Elizabeth Mackay, admitting they know very little about the woman, who was found dead last week in a house in Inverness that coincidentally was the scene of another murder a decade ago.
Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the investigation into the murder, said Miss Mackay had no known enemies.
He said: “From the people we have spoken to who did know the victim, she was quiet, reserved and a bit of a loner.
“She was described as someone who wouldn’t harm a fly and led a private life.”
The detective is hoping to speak to anyone who knew Miss Mackay, claiming any information about her life and background could help in finding her killer.
There was no obvious sign of forced entry to the small property in Kintail Court, in the Hilton area of the city, and DCI Hardie said they could not rule out the possibility she knew her attacker.
He told a press conference at Burnett Road Police station in the Highland capital: “If we can build a picture of her life, that may help in the investigation.”
The 60-year-old was found dead in her home last Thursday at 4.45pm by a man and woman, two of her few known friends, who had called upon her ‘on the spur’ and found the house was unlocked.
There are two dozen officers involved in the investigation.
DCI Hardie, of the Major Investigation Team, said: “It was a fairly sustained assault in the supposed safety of her home, and that obviously causes us some concern.
“There is every possibility the person responsible will have blood on them.”
“As we continue to investigate the circumstances leading to Elizabeth’s death, we are keen to trace anyone who knows her and who may have seen her in the days running up to last Thursday.
“Neighbours and the wider community of Hilton will be understandably shaken and upset by this tragic even and officers will continue to carry out local patrols.
“Local communitys are best to pick up on things that are out of place or events out of the ordinary, so we would appeal to anyone who heard or saw anything unusual or suspicious, even if it appears insignificant, to come forward as a matter of urgency.”
Miss Mackay was last sighted alive last Tuesday afternoon, but police would like to know if she was seen any time between then and Thursday when she was found.
Officers are carrying out door-to-door inquiries and are still reviewing CCTV footage of surrounding areas, although there was no cameras on the street where the murder occurred.
Miss Mackay has lived in the property for eight years, but neighbours have told police she was ‘a loner’ with only a handful of friends – two of whom found her dead.
She is described as being of average height and build, and was last seen wearing dark clothing.
The body of hairdresser Ilene O’Connor was found buried in the garden of the same bungalow at Kintail Court in 2006.
There is no connection to the two murders, police insist.
Brian Grant was jailed for life for the killing of the 39-year-old Inverness hairdresser, with a recommendation he serve at least 14 years.
She had been beaten and strangled to death by the man who lived there, Grant. Ilene’s sick mother was his next-door neighbour.
A jury unanimously found him guilty of murder at the High Court in Edinburgh and heard Grant had an “appalling” criminal record. At sentencing in January 2007, Lord Clarke said Grant was a “significant danger to the public”.