In a statement issued by West Mercia Police, the son and daughter of Betty Yates paid tribute to the 77-year-old, who was found stabbed near Bewdley, Worcestershire, as a “lovely character” who was highly popular in the local area.
Describing their mother as a “true lady”, the widow’s son, David, and daughter, Hazel, said: “We do not understand why or how anybody could have done this and we would urge anyone who has any idea about who is responsible or has any information at all to come forward and tell the police.”
Mrs Yates, who was a member of local walking and book clubs, was found at her substantial detached cottage off Dowles Road last week after concerns for her welfare were raised by a friend.
The retired school teacher, who taught in the Wyre Forest area, had lived at the property, which overlooks the River Severn, for more than 30 years. In their statement, Mrs Yates’s children said: “Our mother was a vivacious, independent and popular person. She had a lovely character and was extremely caring. She was also very fit and active for her age.
“We are extremely shocked and saddened at the manner of her death and at this time we do not know whether we will ever come to terms with that.
“Thankfully we were able to spend some quality time together when we all got together over Christmas and those are now our final, treasured memories.”
Forensic teams are still conducting inquiries at the cottage, named Riverscroft, which lies at the end of track running along the western bank of the Severn. Mrs Yates had lived at the house alone for the past seven years following the death of her husband.
More than 40 police officers and staff are working on the murder inquiry, based at a major incident room set up at Stourport police station.
In a statement issued yesterday, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Jamieson, who is leading the murder investigation, said: “Mrs Yates was subjected to a violent attack and we are determined to catch the person or people responsible.”
Former pupils of Mrs Yates were among those who paid tribute to her on a Facebook group entitled “RIP Betty Yates, the best teacher there was”.
Chris Wilkes wrote on the site: “I’m 43 now. Mrs Yates was one of my first teachers. I have travelled the world and seen many amazing things and I still remember her vividly.”