A suspected serial killer was being questioned last night after three pensioners were found brutally slaughtered in their homes.
Anthony Payne, 80, was found dead on Monday afternoon – less than 24 hours before the bodies of elderly twin brothers were discovered at their house a mile away.
A 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder. Police believe the killings in Exeter are linked due to the similar ‘significant level of injuries’ – which may be consistent with the same weapon being used.
A suspected serial killer was being questioned last night after three pensioners were found brutally slaughtered in their homes. Pictured: Officers scour the Carter twins’ house and garden
Members of Fire and Rescue erect a gazebo outside an address in Exeter, where the body of a 80-year-old man was found
Mr Payne and twin victims Dick and Roger Carter, 84, were all reclusive bachelors. Yesterday officers urged locals to ‘check on elderly relatives’ as detectives investigated whether the victims were targeted by a younger man seeking to exploit them.
Detective Chief Inspector Roy Linden said: ‘At this time there are several and significant common factors between the two addresses. In terms of the level of violence used we decided to link the investigations.’
Last night it was claimed that an antiquated shotgun was found next to the body of Mr Payne.
Shocked: Sylvia Allen (pictured) lived next to the twins for nearly 60 years
It also emerged a note was left on his front door, which read: ‘Elderly man 80 years of age wants accommodation for himself and his pet cat.’
Neighbours said the note, signed ‘AJ Payne’, had been there for a month and that the pensioner had not been seen in that time.
Speaking about Mr Payne, one local said: ‘He was very quiet and kept himself to himself. The note went up a few weeks ago, I suspect the owners had asked him to leave.
‘He was quiet but there would often be problems in the house. It wasn’t him causing problems but people who had access to the property.’
A 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder
Police believe the killings in Exeter (pictured) are linked due to the similar ‘significant level of injuries’ – which may be consistent with the same weapon being used
This note was found on the front door of the property where an 80-year-old man was found dead
Mr Payne – found at 3pm on Monday – is believed to have lived at the address for 20 years. It is not clear whether he knew the Carter twins.
Teams of officers were seen yesterday scouring gardens surrounding both houses.
Meanwhile a witness said she saw a ‘scruffy-looking’ man carrying a tool bag outside the twins’ home hours before they were found dead at 1pm on Tuesday.
Tracey Harkness, who lives nearby, was driving to work at 9.30am that morning when she saw him. She said he was ‘looking a bit funny’ and later reported it to the police.
Members of Fire and Rescue erect a gazebo outside an address in Bonhay Road, Exeter, where the body of a man aged 80 was Monday afternoon
Mr Payne – found at 3pm on Monday – is believed to have lived at the address for 20 years. It is not clear whether he knew the Carter twins
Teams of officers were seen yesterday scouring gardens surrounding both houses
Last night a relative of the Carters, who part-owns their £750,000 house, told of his shock. He revealed the victims were estranged from their family, saying: ‘They were so secluded. They just wanted to be left alone.’
The brothers ran a mushroom business from the early 1990s until 2004, and they also had greengrocers in Exeter.
They retired several years ago and, apart from trips to the supermarket, were rarely seen together outside their large detached home, which had paper and cardboard up at some of the windows.
Forensic officers outside the address in Bonhay Road, Exeter
Police would not disclose where the suspect was arrested but said they were not ‘actively’ looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths
One tribute left at the scene reads: ‘To Dick and Roger. Will miss your conversations and drives to Sainsbury’s. RIP. Doris and Fred.’
Last night neighbours told of their shock. One said: ‘We think they were born there. They had a boxer dog called Odin. We are shattered. They kept themselves to themselves – we never saw them together at the same time.’
Another neighbour, Sarah Johnson, said: ‘They were really lovely gentlemen. One of them was rather more able-bodied than the other and I used to see him shuffling along to Sainsbury’s. I think he went there every day.’
Retired butcher George Waller, 83, said the twins were well known locally when they ran their shop. ‘The more able of the brothers used to wait with me at the bus stop,’ he said. ‘He was always polite.’
Devon and Cornwall Police would not reveal where the suspect was arrested, but said they were not ‘actively’ looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths. They urged anyone in the area between 8am on Sunday and 1pm on Tuesday to get in touch.