Weybread murder: International manhunt under way, finding Sylvia a top priority says detective leading inquiry
- Credit: Archant
An international hunt is today under way for a man suspected of involvement in the murder of an East Anglian man and the disappearance of his wife.
A dramatic day in the search for Sylvia Stuart, 69, and the investigation into the killing of her husband Peter, 75, saw:
• A manhunt launched for Essex man Ali Qazimag, whose abandoned car was found in Dover
• The son-in-law of Mr and Mrs Stuart being questioned by murder squad detectives
• A post-mortem examination reveal Mr Stuart died from multiple stab wounds
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• Suffolk police call in help from international colleagues to trace Mr Qazimag and hopefully find Mrs Stuart alive.
Meanwhile, detectives continued to search the couple's home in the village of Weybread, near Harleston.
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Police leading the murder investigation remain hopeful that Mrs Stuart will be found alive, despite hopes for her safety 'reducing with the passage of time'.
At a press conference yesterday, Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Parkes, who is leading the investigation at Suffolk Constabulary, said that finding Mrs Stuart was their 'top priority'.
'We need to understand where Sylvia may be,' he said. 'Anyone that's got any information, we ask them to contact us in the glimmer of hope that she remains alive.'
A post-mortem examination of a body found just 50ft from the couple's family home in Mill Lane has confirmed the man died as a result of multiple stab wounds. The body has now been formally identified as Mr Stuart. The couple were reported as missing on June 3, having not been seen since a family gathering at their home with their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter last Saturday, May 28.
A 61-year-old man from Leicester, reported to be the Stuarts' son-in-law Steve Paxman, has been released on bail after he was arrested in connection with the death of Mr Stuart and the disappearance of Mrs Stuart.
Police have also made appeals to trace Ali Qazimaj, a 42-year-old man who has been living in the Thurrock area of Essex. Work carried out yesterday identified him as being a key person who officers need to speak to in connection with the enquiry.
Mr Qazimaj is described as white, around 5ft 6ins tall, with brown eyes and dark brown greying hair. He is believed to be from the former Yugoslavia, and was last seen on June 3 in the Thurrock area of Essex.
Police went to his home address on Sunday evening searching for him and Sylvia Stuart, and remained at this location yesterday, with officers said to be working 18-hour days in the search for Sylvia.
His car – a silver Citroen C3 – was found in Athol Terrace in Dover, Kent, overnight on Sunday.
Det Ch Supt Parkes said police were not ruling out the possibility that Ali Qazimaj may have left the country, and that there was a 'slim' chance that Sylvia could be with him.
'It's a line of enquiry that we are pursuing,' he said. 'It's a doubtful line of enquiry, but all options are open to us. We are exploring all possibilities. The (discovery) of his car in Dover gives us that line of enquiry but we can't dismiss the fact that he is in Dover or Kent. We are liaising with police nationally and internationally.'
Police are urging people not to approach him but to call 999 immediately. 'We have made rapid progress over the last three days since the report of concern for Peter and Sylvia on the morning of Friday, working tirelessly over the weekend,' said Det Ch Supt Parkes.
'Our priority remains locating Sylvia and we are continuing to conduct searches in Weybread as well as making further enquiries.
'While our hopes of finding Sylvia do diminish with the passage of time, we remain ever hopeful that we are going to find her alive. The location of Sylvia is our primary concern and our absolute priority.
'We are looking all over the place for her, quite literally. We are still around the family's home address. We have exhausted all obvious options and we are now looking for the less obvious options in that immediate area. We have had limited public response and that's one of the main focuses of today, to seek the public's response in the hope of finding Sylvia alive. We have had some help from the public but clearly not the assistance that we are after in terms of locating Sylvia.
'We are also actively working to find Ali Qazimaj and determine his movements since Saturday 28 May, and would ask that anyone with information contacts our incident room as soon as possible.
'We believe there was a connection between Ali Qazimaj and the family. I don't believe that to be a strong connection. The 61-year-old man arrested yesterday is still in custody as we work to find out what happened to Peter and Sylvia.'
Anyone with information can contact Suffolk police through the incident room on 01473 782000.