Woman found dead after missing birthday party 'bludgeoned to death'

A woman feared murdered after she failed to turn up to her own birthday celebrations was bludgeoned to death, police said.

The 29-year-old, who was discovered dead in a bed in Crawley on Friday night, has been named by officers as Christina Abbotts.

She had been living at the flat in the Gossops Green area of the West Sussex town, Sussex Police confirmed on Sunday.

The preliminary cause of death from a post-mortem examination is blunt force trauma to the head, a spokesman said.

A 47-year-old man, who knew Ms Abbotts and was at the property when officers arrived, was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody. Magistrates have granted detectives a further 36 hours to question him.

Witnesses told how police "flooded" into the street shortly after 10.30pm on Friday after friends, who were worried when she failed to turn up to meet them in London, raised the alarm.

The scene in Highams Hill, Gossops Green (Flora Thompson/PA)
The scene in Highams Hill, Gossops Green (Flora Thompson/PA)

Detective Chief Inspector Emma Heater said: "We are supporting Christina's family, who aren't local to Crawley, at this very distressing time. They have asked for privacy while they start to grieve.

"We are investigating the circumstances of her death and are keen to hear from anyone who might have seen or heard anything which might help with our investigation. Please speak to us in confidence with any information, however small."

Anyone with information should call Sussex Police or Crimestoppers and quote Operation Grayhill.

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