Murdered Chidham couple ‘had no enemies’

Dennis Jefferson, 76, and wife Sheila, 73, were found with head and neck injuries in their burnt home. Contributed picture from 2010

Dennis Jefferson, 76, and wife Sheila, 73, were found with head and neck injuries in their burnt home. Contributed picture from 2010

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A friend and neighbour of an elderly couple who were found murdered in their burning Chidham home have described a ‘popular couple’ who had ‘no enemies in the world’.

The couple have been named locally as Dennis and Sheila Jefferson, 76 and 73, though police are yet to formerly identify them.

A huge number of firefighters and police attended

A huge number of firefighters and police attended

Ann Hill, 82, who lives directly next door to the Jefferson bungalow in Maybush Drive, said she had known the couple for almost 30 years and described them as her closest friends.

She said: “They were two of my best friends, two of my closest friends. They’ve lived here close to 30 years, it must be.

“I can’t believe it. Everybody loved them.

“As far as we all knew, they had no enemies in the world. Everybody adored them. And they’d do anything for anybody.

Police have launched a murder probe following the fire

Police have launched a murder probe following the fire

“They have lived in the area for years and were a very popular couple.

“They were both retired. Dennis was a manager for Xerox.

“She was a housewife. They had two children each - both from previous marriages.

“My son went round to see Dennis and Sheila on Wednesday and she said, ‘sorry she hadn’t seen me for a few days, but her brother was dying’.

“They had a very very close family. They all saw each other a lot - they were that sort of couple.”

Sussex Police has launched a murder investigation after a post mortem showed the couple died from head and neck injuries prior to the fire, which took hold on Saturday morning.

http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/local/murder-investigation-launched-following-chidham-bungalow-fire-1-7204832

Police said they are waiting to speak to a man, who is known to the couple and has been named as a potential suspect, who is currently critically ill and in hospital being treated for burns.

Ann added: “At half past eight on Saturday morning, my phone rang and it was my neighbour, who said, ‘Is Dennis’s house on fire?’ I told her didn’t know.

“She said that there was a lot of smoke in the road.

“All the flames were leaping from the sun-lounge. At that minute, my front was banging like mad with someone saying I had to get out immediately, because next door is on fire.

“The wall was very warm. They wouldn’t let me back in until the warm had cooled.

“Initially, I thought, have they got a tumble-dryer in the sun-lounge because of what I’ve heard about them.

“I’ve been in there hundreds of times; they had the most immaculate house; there was never a thing out of place. She was fanatically house-proud.

“I just cannot believe it.”

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