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Pensioner held on suspicion of murder after human remains found in septic tank

Police believe they are those of farmer’s wife Brenda Venables, who was reported missing by her husband in 1982.

West Mercia Police officers searching the address of an 86-year-old who neighbours named as David Venables, in Kempsey, Worcestershire (Richard Vernalls/PA)
West Mercia Police officers searching the address of an 86-year-old who neighbours named as David Venables, in Kempsey, Worcestershire (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Detectives investigating the discovery of human remains in a septic tank have said they believe they are those of a farmer’s wife who disappeared in 1982.

Brenda Venables, 48, was reported missing from the couple’s then home in Bestmans Lane, Kempsey, by her husband David.

West Mercia Police launched a murder investigation after the grim find in a septic tank at the address in the Worcestershire village on July 12.

An 86-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.

On Tuesday police officers were carrying out searches at the bungalow where Mr Venables, 86, now lives in the village.

Three police vehicles were outside the detached property in the usually quiet cul-de-sac, where a red estate car could be seen parked on the driveway.

Officers wearing gloves could also be seen inside the property.

Police would not be drawn on activity at the scene other than to say it was “a line of investigation”.

It's quite astounding. To actually find somebody in a cesspit. Resident

Neighbours of Mr Venables said he kept to himself and always had the blinds drawn at the front of his home.

“You can see the blinds are down and that’s all of the time, and that’s normal,” said a female resident, who declined to be named.

She said police had not called since the arrest but did speak to neighbours after the remains were discovered earlier this month.

“It’s quite astounding. To actually find somebody in a cesspit.”

She added:  “We don’t see him, really. He gets out of his bungalow and into his car and then comes back.”

Another neighbour, who lives a few doors down, said: “We’ve said hello to him, but we don’t know him. It’s a friendly, sleepy neighbourhood.”

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Flowers left at the cesspit where the remains were recovered, at the farmhouse where Mr and Mrs Venables once lived, in Bestman’s Lane, Kempsey. (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Flowers have been placed on the septic tank in which the remains were found, in the backyard of a farmhouse in which Mr and Mrs Venables lived when she went missing.

A force spokesman said detectives were still awaiting DNA results but “the general circumstances lead us to believe” that the remains are likely to be those of Brenda Venables.

In May 1982, Mr Venables told the Worcester News: “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.”

The couple had no children, according to the article.

It is understood the remains were discovered after the tank was drained during routine maintenance.

Police said the formal identification process was likely to take a few weeks.

PA

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