Two arrests after body of woman with learning difficulties found in house


A murder investigation has been launched after the body of a woman with learning difficulties was found at a house during a missing person search.

West Midlands Police said detectives looking for Susan Whiting, last seen alive on Monday, made the discovery in Heather Close, Walsall, yesterday.

The body has yet to be formally identified, but the death is being treated as suspicious.

A 34-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the find. A post-mortem is now due to take place to establish the cause of death.

Forensics teams are still at the house while officers carry out door-to-door inquiries in the area.

Speaking after launching the missing person's appeal yesterday, Detective Sergeant Paul Reeves said 20-year-old Ms Whiting had never been missing before.

Ms Whiting's family raised the alarm when she failed to meet her mother to get a pre-arranged lift home.

Forensics tent in bungalow

Meanwhile, the death has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which the force said was routine when a missing person is found dead.

The police have been focusing their attentions on a single terraced bungalow, which is among several such homes on Heather Close, setting up a forensics tent in the back garden.

Neighbours there reacted with shock at the discovery of the body and yesterday's arrests of what residents described as a "lovely" couple.

One man, who gave his name as Peter, said: "They took two people away, a man and a woman.

"He was a very nice man.

"When he first moved here, he offered to help everybody and offered to dig my garden because I can't get about you see.

"He fixed the handrail to my front door."

Lovely couple

His helper, who declined to give her name, said they were "a lovely couple".

She added: "I am gobsmacked to find out what's happened - we've never had any trouble here.

"I'm so shocked."

Dorothy and Bob Armstrong, whose garden backs on to that of the cordoned-off bungalow's, said the thought of what may have happened left them "cold".

"It's a terrible shame to think of that young girl," said 84-year-old council tenant Mrs Armstrong.

"I've been wanting to move away from here, to be honest."

She added: "The house where the police went in - a big woman lives there and another chap.

"The man they took away, he was always doing things in the yard, trimming the hedges at the back and cutting the lawns for other people."

Cheerful young woman

Julie Pritchard, who has lived on neighbouring Moorland Street for 12 years, said: "This is a real shock - we've never had anything like this happen here."

Ms Whiting was a student at a local college whose principal today praised her as "cheerful" young woman who had been growing in confidence.

Jev Bhalla, of Walsall Adult and Community College, said she had been studying at its Leamore campus for three years.

Ms Whiting had earned a national certificate and a diploma in hospitality and catering, and also worked at the on-campus bistro.

Mr Bhalla added: "She was a cheerful member of the college community and was making great academic progress."

The college specialises in educating students with learning difficulties and disabilities and sets high academic achievement standards.

"We're all waiting for news with sunken hearts," added Mr Bhalla.

"As a parent myself, it's inconceivable to expect this sort of thing could have happened."