An international murder inquiry has been launched for the lodger of an Avon lady after she was found dead at her home alongside her elderly mother.
Police are searching for Barry Morrow, 51, after the bodies of Angela Holgate, 54, and Alice Huyton, 75, were found at the home he shared with Miss Holgate.
He caught a ferry from Dover to Calais and is believed to be driving Miss Holgate’s white Citroen car.
Neighbours said Mrs Huyton, who lived with her 80-year-old husband James, had become concerned about her daughter having not heard from her for a few days and so telephoned Morrow, her on-off boyfriend, who told her to come over for dinner on Friday evening.
The alarm was not raised until Saturday because she often stayed the night. But when neither woman could be raised by telephone, Miss Holgate’s son-in-law Colin Hyde went to the house and found the bodies.
Yesterday, the womens' family was too upset to comment. However, a message posted on a local internet forum, apparently from a sibling of Mrs Holgate, read: "We want to try, if that is going to be possible, to get our heads round why this happened."
"We are keen to trace Mr Morrow, who we believe may have vital information for this investigation."
It is not known whether Miss Holgate was killed before or after her mother arrived. Police said there were no external signs of injury to either woman.
Morrow, an engineer who is known to the police, has property connections in France and Spain. The divorced father-of-one is described as being white, 5ft 7in and of medium to stocky build with straight, short brown hair that is receding and blue eyes.
He was first seen at Miss Holgate’s home in Fairhaven Road, Southport, earlier this year when he repaved the front garden and driveway.
A neighbour said: “I told him he was doing a good job and he told me he was the lodger. He asked me if I needed any jobs doing about the house.
“He was very powerfully built, he could lift the flagstones with one hand.”
Miss Holgate, a former Avon lady who worked at her local Tesco Express, had two grown up daughters and was divorced from her husband, Leonard.
She was said to be a popular member of the community and had lived in the £160,000 house for the last 25 years.
Kevin Woodfull, 49, whose wife, Hayley, was friends with Miss Holgate, said: “Angela was only round at our house a couple of days ago sorting out plans for New Year’s Eve.
“She’d asked my wife to get some tickets for a party at a sports club nearby. Angela had enjoyed it last year and wanted to go again.
“My wife said she seemed really happy and she was always a cheerful woman. She was quite well known because she used to deliver Avon.
“We heard that Angela’s mum had become worried about her daughter after not hearing from her for a while and phone the house. Apparently she spoke to the lodger and he told her to come around for tea if she didn’t believe her daughter was OK."
Another neighbour said: “Angela had been ill so her mum had come to look after her and had stayed over Friday night
“When her husband hadn’t heard from her, he went round to the house and discovered the bodies.”
One resident added: “It’s a pretty well-to-do area around here so we don’t get much police activity at all.
“I saw that there was a man coming and going from the house recently, doing the front garden, but I never knew he lived there.
“Angela and her daughters were always pleasant, she seemed like a lovely woman and they were a lovely family.
Merseyside Police have sealed off Miss Holgate’s house and two properties on either side.
Chief Superintendent Nikki Holland said: “We are investigating the tragic deaths of these two women and our sympathy goes to their families.
“Detectives are investigating the circumstances around these deaths and are trying to piece together the women’s last movements.
“We are appealing to anyone with any information that may help us with this investigation to come forward as soon as possible.
“In particular we are keen to trace Mr Morrow, who lived at the house for a period of time and who we believe may have vital information for this investigation.”
Forensic experts are examining the scene, officers are carrying out house-to-house enquiries and have stepped up high-visibility patrols.
A post mortem carried out last night (SUN) is expected to reveal a cause of death. Police said there were no external signs of injury.
Telegraph Media Group Limited