Police suspect the husband of Epsom College's late headteacher killed his wife and their seven-year-old daughter before taking his own life, The Independent understands.
A gun found alongside the bodies at their home in the private school’s grounds on Sunday was registered to George Pattison, husband of Emma and father of Lettie, police said.
The Times reported that Ms Pattison had contacted a close relative with concerns about her husband in the hours before the deaths.
Officers from Surrey Police said they were in contact with Mr Pattison three days before the deaths after he registered a change of address, as firearms owners are required to.
Tributes poured in from colleagues of “respected” Ms Pattison and Lettie, who was described as “perfect” by a former babysitter.
Dr Alastair Wells of Epsom College expressed the school’s “utter shock and disbelief” after the incident.
“Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with Emma's family, friends and loved ones, and to the many pupils and colleagues whose lives she enriched throughout her distinguished career,” he said.
Ms Pattison was found dead alongside her daughter Lettie and husband, George, at their home on the grounds of Epsom College in Surrey.
Police have not yet confirmed the cause of their deaths, but said they were confident that there was “no third-party involvement”.
Ms Pattison spoke about how there was “so much to look ahead to and be excited” about just weeks before her death.
An unnamed source told The Telegraph that a member of school staff had called the emergency services after hearing what they believed to be gunshots in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The area surrounding the Pattisons’ home, which is granted to headteachers and their families at the prestigious school, was cordoned off on Monday.
Among the sealed buildings was Epsom College’s rifle range. The Independent understands that it is not considered part of the scene of investigation but was closed because of its close proximity to the house.
Police and security guards in high-visibility clothing flanked the school entrances as investigations continued, with officers expected to remain in the area over the next few days.
The college remains open and pupils and staff were set to be offered counselling. The school’s flag is flying at half-mast.
Speaking on the school’s Epsom Insight podcast in December, Ms Pattison spoke of her arrival as headteacher in September.
She said the transition from her previous job in Croydon had been a “big change” for her family, with her daughter moving school and her husband getting a new job.
“There has been a lot of change for us as a family but it’s been wonderful,” Ms Pattison said.
“There is so much to look ahead to and be excited about … there is so much to come.”
Emma was a wonderful teacher, but most of all she was a delightful person
Surrey Police called the deaths an “isolated incident” but provided no further information.
Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey said: “I want to give my assurance that we will conduct a thorough investigation into what took place last night, and hope to be able to bring some peace in these traumatic circumstances.”
Dr Alastair Wells, chair of the board of governors at Epsom College, said pupils and staff were in “utter shock and disbelief”.
“Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with Emma’s family, friends and loved ones, and to the many pupils and colleagues whose lives she enriched throughout her distinguished career,” he added.
“Emma was a wonderful teacher, but most of all she was a delightful person. In time we will commemorate Emma and her family, in the appropriate way, and in line with the wishes of her family.”
She was formerly the headteacher of Croydon High School, whose chief executive Cheryl Giovannoni described her as a “much loved and respected” colleague, “as well as a talented head and teacher and a dear friend to many of us”.
“She touched the lives of all of us with her energy, wisdom and kindness during her six years as head of Croydon High School and the school will always bear the legacy of her inspiring leadership,” she added.
Epsom College, which was named independent school of the year in 2022, has alumni including Conservative MP Michael Fallon, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and comedian Tim Vine.
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