Vigil for murdered schoolteacher
Dozens of friends and former pupils of a retired schoolteacher found murdered at her riverside cottage have staged a candlelit vigil to pay their respects to her memory.
More than 60 people gathered to lay flowers and place candles on a bridge near the home of 77-year-old Betty Yates, who was found dead on Wednesday in north Worcestershire.
Mrs Yates, who taught generations of children at Kidderminster's St John Middle School, was found stabbed at her home beside a track overlooking the River Severn near Bewdley, Worcestershire, after concerns were raised for her welfare.
Fellow members of Bewdley Civic Society also turned out to remember Mrs Yates, who was well known locally for her involvement with book-reading and walking clubs, as well as the Wyre Forest's University of the Third Age.
Pat Brown, a friend of Mrs Yates who often went swimming with her at a local hotel, described her as a fantastic person whose popularity could be judged by the large turn-out at the vigil.
"She was brilliant, always happy, always smiling and always helpful," Mrs Brown told reporters. "I did a little job for her before Christmas and she sent me a beautiful bunch of flowers to say thank you. She always wanted to help and you couldn't ask for a better person."
Cousins Verity Worthington and Charlotte Mayall, who were taught by Mrs Yates when they were Year-5 pupils in 1992, brought a copy of their class photograph to the bridge.
"She was very warm and very approachable," Ms Mayall, 29, said. "She used to organise walks to pick cherries on summer evenings outside of school and there aren't many teachers who do that."
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.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for West Mercia Police said officers were aware of a deleted posting on a Facebook tribute page made by someone who claimed that Mrs Yates was killed by a burglar who thought her cottage was empty.