A community has been shocked and mystified by the discoveries of three mutilated bodies in just over 24 hours.
Detectives were last night searching for clues in Bradford, West Yorkshire, after firefighters called out to a bonfire found a corpse so badly burned that its gender could not be determined.
The grim discovery, on the Holme Wood Estate, came a day after the badly beaten bodies of two young men were found a five-minute drive away on a quiet country lane.
Police are trying to identify the three bodies and said it was too early to say whether the deaths were linked.
Yesterday it emerged that a postmortem had discovered that one of the first two bodies – found by a motorist on New Lane near Tong shortly before 10.30pm on Tuesday – had died of head injuries.
The two victims were between their mid-20s and their 30s. However, their condition was said to be so bad that detectives have so far been unable to establish anything more.
Officers are trying to determine whether they may have had a criminal past or whether the deaths could be gang-related.
"We are examining the possibility that these bodies were left on New Lane following an attack," said Detective Superintendent Dick Nuttall of West Yorkshire Police. "This is a rural and quiet area of Bradford and people may have noticed any unusual activity, especially at this time of night.
"At this stage we have not recovered any weapons.
"However, forensic officers are examining the scene." Meanwhile, a second murder investigation was launched yesterday after the third corpse was found.
Det Supt Paul Taylor, leading that inquiry, said he was liaising closely with the first investigation.
However, he added: "Although the incidents are geographically close, there is nothing to suggest at this stage that they are linked.
"Our investigations are ongoing and work will now begin around identification. Our local neighbourhood policing team officers will also continue to provide a strong presence in the area through reassurance patrols."
Yesterday police raided a house in the area while another was searched. Officers cordoned off a large section of Holme Wood Estate as they combed a park at its centre and collected CCTV footage in search of clues.
All entrances to the park were closed off and guarded and many of the streets around it were also sealed off.
The discoveries have alarmed locals in the community, on the outskirts of Bradford. Some speculated the killings took place elsewhere, with the bodies then dumped in the area.
One, Alice Avery, said: "It's a quiet area but you just don't know what goes on at night-time, do you?" Others said the area was plagued by drug dealers and armed gangs. One elderly woman said: "Everyone's being careful who they open their door to at night."