Police investigating the murder of Thornbury vicar Reverend John Suddards have formally linked his death with the murder of a retired school teacher in January.
Rev Suddards, 59, was found stabbed to death in St Mary’s vicarage in Thornbury, South Gloiucestershire, last Tuesday morning.
Suspect Stephen Farrow, 47, was arrested in Folkestone, Kent, on suspicion of his murder at 4.20 on Saturday morning – following an urgent police appeal for sightings of the “dangerous” man who “exploits the charity of the church”.
Farrow remains in police custody, while a 43-year-old man arrested on Tuesday has been released on police bail.
Yesterday, police from Avon and Somerset police revealed they were “working closely” with officers from West Mercia police investigating the death of Betty Yates, 77.
Mrs Yates was beaten with her walking stick before being stabbed in the neck at her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on January 4.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Jamieson of West Mercia Police added: “We have been particularly interested in the work by Avon and Somerset Police to investigate the murder of Reverend John Suddards.
“We have been working together with them to examine similarities between that incident and the murder of Betty Yates.
“We will continue our unrelenting efforts to bring the offender responsible for this dreadful crime to justice.”
Rev Suddards, who lived alone, had served the church for 22 years after leaving work as a barrister following a car accident.
He was discovered dead in the hallway of his vicarage at 10.20am on Tuesday after builders due to carry out planned work used a spare key to enter the locked property.
Mrs Yates, a widow of seven years, was found deceased in the foot of her stairs at the cottage where she had lived for more than 30 years.
The mother-of-two was well known in her local community and heavily involved in local book and hiking clubs.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Crisp from Avon and Somerset Police said: “I would like to thank members of the public for all their help in this investigation so far.
“We are determined to bring whoever is responsible for the murder of the Reverend to justice and are working very closely with our colleagues in other areas of the country.
“We have had an enormous amount of information fed into the incident room.
“In fact it was as a direct result of assistance from a member of the public that we were able to locate this man and we would like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude.
“We continue to encourage anyone who has not yet come forward to do so if they feel there is anything at all they think would help the investigation.”
Almost 300 residents from Thornbury attended a special service in the town to remember Rev Suddards on Friday night.
Parishioners filled the town’s Baptist church to hear the Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Reverend Michael Perham pay tribute to a “good man and faithful minister”.