Neighbours have left floral tributes to two women murdered in a West Sussex village.
The victims, named locally as Sandy Seagrave, 76, and Amy Appleton, 32, who is reportedly a teacher at Copthorne Church of England Junior School, were killed outside a semi-detached house in a quiet street in Crawley Down on Sunday.
Sussex Police said a 37-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder is in a “very unstable condition” in hospital, after he was found injured inside the property.
Detective Chief Inspector Alex Geldart has said it was not a knife attack and one of the victims was known to the suspect.
A marked police car and uniformed officers were outside the house in Hazel Way on Christmas Eve, as people laid flowers and paid their respects.
After laying a bunch of flowers, one passer-by said: “It is a horrible thing to have happened. Who would have believed this could happen in a sleepy place like this?”
A candle with the message “RIP Sandy XX” on its glass holder was placed near a small cuddly toy bear among the collection of flowers, while a red rose had been drawn on the front of a handmade condolence card marked “Amy”.
It read: “To Amy, Rest in peace. You were such a lovely neighbour to us and the rest of the village. We wish the best to all of the family.”
Another card attached to a floral tribute said: “A beautiful lady. Taken far too soon. So many fond memories of Amy growing up and blossoming into a fine young lady. Our thoughts are with you at this sad time.”
Residents near the crime scene turned off their Christmas lights in tribute to those who had been killed, according to a local homeowner.
Retired milkman Tony Jones, 74, described Ms Seagrave as a “lovely lady”, who did “not deserve this”.
A 70-year-old grandmother, who has lived in the area all her life but did not want to be named, said: “It is just so sad. It feels like she was walking in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“It has always been a friendly and safe area. I have never felt scared walking out at night.”
Another neighbour said: “She could be a bit abrupt, but when you got to know her she had a heart of gold. She had a great love of animals.”
Reverend Christine Keyt said: “Something like this, as you would expect, has affected the whole parish. People have been very upset by it, looking for comfort and lighting candles at the church.”
Uniformed police were making door-to-door inquiries and talking to neighbours on Tuesday.
Ms Geldart said: “This is a tragic incident which has led to the death of two local women, one of whom was known to the suspect.
“Members of the public, police and paramedics did all they could to help the victims but sadly the two women died at the scene.
“I extend my heartfelt sympathies to their families, who are being supported by specialist trained officers. I ask that people respect their privacy at this distressing time.”
Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman, West Sussex divisional commander, added: “This is an isolated yet shocking incident that has shaken many in the community. We are thankful to them for supporting officers as they go about their inquiries.”