Widow's death - 'gangs was operating'

POLICE hunting for bogus callers responsible for the death of a 90-year-old widow believe a gang was operating in the area and targeting vulnerable people.

POLICE hunting for bogus callers responsible for the death of a 90-year-old widow believe a gang was operating in the area and targeting vulnerable people.

Housebound Thelma Avis died less than four hours after £1,000 was stolen from her home in Barn Hall Avenue, Colchester, at about 5.30pm on Friday.

A murder investigation was launched because police believed the trauma of the burglary could have triggered her death.

Mrs Avis, who discovered the missing money after a bogus gasman called, gave Colchester police detailed descriptions of the man responsible.


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Door-to-door enquiries yesterday led police to believe those responsible may have been part of a gang.

An Essex Police spokesman said the team could have had three or more people and issued details of a second man seen by Mrs Avis's neighbours.

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The first conman, who kept Mrs Avis talking for about 25 minutes while another person searched through her belongings, was between 20 and 30 years old and about 5ft 7ins to 5ft 8ins tall.

He had short dark brown hair, was clean-shaven and had a sallow complexion. It is thought the man had a Colchester accent and spoke quickly.

A second member of the gang was white, aged in his early 20s and had a tanned complexion and small build. The man had dishevelled short hair and spoke with an Irish accident.

One member of the gang wore a beige baseball cap.

Information is wanted about a small red van seen in the area and is possibly connected to the events.

Before her death Mrs Avis gave officers a detailed 10-page statement which police believe could be invaluable in the hunt to catch the killers.

A special murder hotline has been set up by Essex Police and anyone with any information should call 01277 262220 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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