Thelma murder - new police appeal

DETECTIVES hunting the killers of 90-year-old Thelma Avis have renewed their appeals for information one month after her death.Mrs Avis died just hours after bogus callers entered her home in Barn Hall Avenue, Colchester.

DETECTIVES hunting the killers of 90-year-old Thelma Avis have renewed their appeals for information one month after her death.

Mrs Avis died just hours after bogus callers entered her home in Barn Hall Avenue, Colchester.

The grandmother-of-four let a man posing as a gas worker into her immaculately-kept home at 5.30pm on July 4.

He went inside and kept her talking for about 25 minutes until she became suspicious and called her son.


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Police believe an accomplice slipped into the house and stole £1,000 while Mrs Avis was distracted. Less than four hours later, she had a heart attack and died.

Until then, she had lived peacefully for 65 years in what had been her marital home.

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Police launched a murder investigation because they believe the trauma of the burglary could have triggered her death.

It was a crime that sent shockwaves throughout East Anglia, tragically highlighting the harm callous conmen cause the elderly and vulnerable.

The East Anglian Daily Times put up a £1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for Mrs Avis's death.

Her two sons, Neil, 56, and John, 59, also backed the newspaper's Safe in Your Home campaign, re-launched as part of a fresh crack down on bogus callers.

Detectives leading the hunt for the killers said they are trying to eliminate a red Ford Escort van that was seen in her road around the time the conmen called.

Before she died, Mrs Avis, who suffered from heart disease, was able to give police a description of the man who knocked on her door.

He is described as white, between 5ft 7in and 5ft 11in tall and of slim to medium build.

He spoke quickly with a Colchester accent, had short, straight, brown hair, a sallow complexion and was wearing a navy-blue, long-sleeved top, blue jeans and trainers.

His accomplice, who had an Irish accent, is described as white, aged 22-24, 5ft tall and of slim build.

Anyone with information should contact Essex Police on 01277 262220 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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