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Arrest made as police link deaths of three elderly men in Exeter

UK News | Published:

A 27-year-old man has been held in what is now a triple murder inquiry.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after three elderly men were violently killed in their homes just a mile apart.

The discovery of the bodies of twins Dick and Roger Carter, 84, and Anthony Payne, 80, were found less than 24 hours apart in Exeter, Devon.

The three deaths were being linked due to the “level of violence used”, according to Devon and Cornwall Police, who launched a triple murder inquiry.

One woman who lives near the Carters said her mother had seen a “scruffy looking man carrying a tool bag” outside the elderly twins’ home just hours before their bodies were discovered.

Exeter murder inquiry
The overgrown garden at an address in Bonhay Road, Exeter (Ben Birchall/PA)

And at 1pm the following day, officers went to the Carter brothers’ detached home in Cowick Lane after their bodies had been found.

Hours later a 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and he remains in custody at Heavitree police station in Exeter.

The two murder scenes are just over a mile away from each other, but it is understood there are no links between the Carter brothers and Mr Payne.

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Detective Chief Inspector Roy Linden, from the major crime investigation team, said: “At this time there are several and significant common factors between the two addresses.

“In terms of the level of violence used we decided last night to link the investigations.

“Originally, they were treated as two separate murder investigations.

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“One suspect has been identified and formally arrested yesterday evening.”

Mr Linden would not discuss whether any weapons had been used in the attacks or whether anything was taken but confirmed detectives were not “actively” looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

“There are several significant common factors between the two addresses,” he said.

“There were significant levels of injuries and some commonality between the two incidents, which led us to link those investigations and treat them as one single investigation at the moment.

“Although we believe a certain course of action has taken place, which we are actively investigating, it is still very much with an open mind.”

Police urged anyone in the area of Bonhay Road and Cowick Lane between 8am on February 10 and 1pm on February 12 to get in touch.

Superintendent Matt Lawler, the local policing commander for Exeter, East and Mid Devon urged members of the public to check on elderly neighbours and relatives.

Exeter murder inquiry
A taped off window at one of the houses (Ben Birchall/PA)

“I know that this news will cause significant and understandable concern and is an unprecedented event in our city which has shocked us all.

“While a man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in relation to these incidents, we must keep an open mind and avoid speculation as we are still in the very early stages of what is already a complex investigation.

“It is vital that anyone who has any information shares with us it as soon as possible.”

At Mr Payne’s home a handwritten note had been left on the front door, which read: “Elderly man 80 years of age wants accommodation for himself and his pet cat. Any replies to 65 Bonhay Road.”

It was signed “AG Payne”.

Exeter murder inquiry
Floral tributes left outside an address in Cowick Lane (Ben Birchall/PA)

One card said: “To Dick and Roger, will miss your conversations and drives to Sainsbury’s. RIP, Doris and Fred.”

They had previously run an agricultural business called TrayCrop.

Uniformed officers were also seen removing items from a wheelie bin in nearby Church Park Road and placing them in evidence bags.

Neighbours said the one of the items looked like a “flip flop or the sole of a shoe”.

Lianne Hill, who lives nearby, said: “They had a good look right round in my garden but didn’t find anything.

“They never explained what they were looking for and the next minute they went down the alleyway and to the adjacent house.”

She added: “It’s a bit scary when it is so close to home.”

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