A NEIGHBOUR claimed that an 86-year-old farmer arrested for his wife’s murder after human remains were found in a septic tank told them she’d fled to Spain.
David Venables is in custody after remains believed to be those of his wife Brenda were discovered at their former farmhouse, the Sun Online understands.
Mrs Venables, 48, vanished from their home in Kempsey, Worcs., in 1982, and her husband still lives in the area.
Maintenance workers raised the alarm on July 12 and police later made the grim discovery, with forensic tests on the human bones ongoing.
The Sun Online found police outside Mr Venables’s Kempsey bungalow this morning, with plain-clothes detectives scouring his home.
‘A PRIVATE MAN’
One neighbour said: “Mrs Venables used to go every week to her parents in Bromsgrove.
“At one point he [Mr Venables] told someone his wife had gone off to Spain.”
Another neighbour added: “He is a very private man. He has lived there for five years and he has not once opened his Venetian blinds.”
Mrs Venables’ sister Rita, in his 80s, said she had been informed by detectives of Venables’ arrest and that he was taken to Worcester police station for questioning.
She told The Sun Online how she was still waiting for confirmation that the cess pit remains were her missing sibling.
Speaking from her home near Pershore, Worcs, she said: “I haven’t seen David in years, not since he sold the farm and moved to his bungalow.
“It’s all just such a shock after all these years. That’s all I can really say.”
Rita’s daughter-in-law Armida Sheppy added: “This is a very traumatic time for us all, especially my mother in law.
“We need to wait for the police to do their work and I can’t really comment any further.
“But I have faith in the justice system in the UK and I really hope we can find closure.”
A West Mercia Police spokesman told Sun Online: “We are still waiting for forensics to come back so it is likely to be a few weeks.
“Our investigation is leading us to believe it is likely to be her [Mrs Venables].”
Police confirmed the pensioner arrested is from the village of Kempsey.
Two police cars, a police van and two unmarked vehicles were today parked outside Mr Venables’ cul-de-sac home.
Neighbours said the OAP had lived alone for the past five years, but hadn’t been seen for three days before cops swooped this morning.”
He is a very private man. He has lived there for five years and he has not once opened his venetian blinds
A neighbour of Mr Venables
A neighbour said: “He must live at the back of the bungalow because they are never open.
“You would occasionally see him to say ‘hello’ but no-one on this cul-de-sac has any sort of relationship with him.
“He has lived alone there. Not once has he ever mentioned being married.”
Mr Venables car remained parked on the drive.
‘HE KEPT HIMSELF TO HIMSELF’
Another local resident said the OAP “kept himself to himself and he is thought to have been on holiday last week.
One neighbour said she was “staggered” at news of Mr Venables’ arrest.
She said: “He’s fairly new to the area. He’s very quiet. At Christmas time I was taking cards to neighbours around the close.
“I’d only met him once before and spoken to him only briefly. After I put the card in his letterbox he called a few days later and thanked me for the card.
“I asked him if he wanted to come in for a cup of tea and he said yes. I haven’t really seen him since then, I’m absolutely flabbergasted.”
One local added: “We don’t see him, really. He gets out of his bungalow and into his car and then comes back.”
Fire investigators in high-viz jackets were also seen entering Venables’ home this afternoon.
Earlier in July, Detective Chief Inspector Carl Moore said forensics results confirmed the bones belonged to an adult female.
He said: “We are aware this is concerning for the community of Kempsey, the wider Worcestershire area and for those with missing family or friends. There is a lot of speculation surrounding the remains.
“These types of discoveries are rare and I would like to reassure people that we are doing our utmost to identify the remains – so that a family can have closure and lay their loved one to rest.”
He continued: “Unfortunately, this can be a lengthy process but we are committed to identifying who this is and will update the community in due course.”
Locals have said they believe the remains belong to Mrs Venables.
Her husband David, now 86, sold the farmhouse in 2014 for £467,000 and lives in a £300,000 bungalow nearby.
The remains were originally thought to be connected to the search for the murdered estate agent Suzy Lamplugh in Pershore – about 10 miles away – but police ruled it out.
Officers have been looking into the possibility the bones belong to Mrs Venables after confirming it was a “line of inquiry” and are waiting for the results of a post-mortem examination.
A Police spokesman said today: “Police investigating the discovery of female human remains, in a septic tank, in the village of Kempsey, Worcestershire, on Friday 12 July have arrested a man on suspicion of murder.
Police investigating the discovery of female human remains, in a septic tank, in the village of Kempsey, Worcestershire, on Friday 12 July have arrested a man on suspicion of murder.
West Mercia Police spokesman
“The 86-year-old man from Kempsey remains in custody at this time helping officers with their enquiries.”
Mrs Venables ran a nursery on the side while her husband had a piggery nearby on their 500 acres of land.
It is understood they didn’t have any children.
After the remains were found, Mr Venables declined to comment and told reporters: “I have nothing to say on the matter.”
One villager, who did not want to be named, said: “Nobody ever seemed to know what happened to her.
“She went missing one night – the family have never had closure.”
Speaking at the time of the disappearance, Mr Venables said: “I just woke up to find that she had gone.
“She has never done anything like this before and I haven’t the faintest idea what has happened to her.”
He went on to say his wife had recently been suffering from depression and a bout of flu.
Mr Venables added: “I have been unable to sleep a wink since she left and I can only hope and pray she is safe.”
Her disappearance was treated as a search for a missing person and it never became a murder inquiry.
He was never arrested in connection with his wife’s disappearance, according to relatives.
Mrs Venables’ name was added to her parents’ gravestone 16 miles away in Rushock, recording her year of death as 1982.
Suzy, 25, was reported missing on July 28, 1986 in London and was officially declared dead in 1994.
The Met Police started searching for Suzy at Drakes Broughton, Worcs., close to where a previous search had taken place.
Officials said it was result of fresh information following a search at prime suspect and convicted killer John Cannan’s mum’s home.
He was never prosecuted for Suzy’s murder because there was insufficient evidence.
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West Mercia Police say it could take weeks before the remains are formally identified.
Superintendent Damian Pettit said: “We are conducting a very thorough investigation and have multiple lines of enquiry to explore and one of which is into the disappearance of a woman from Kempsey that was launched in 1982.”
“Until we have formal identification we are not in a position to link the remains to any particular person at this stage.”
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