Five women have died in Doncaster in the last seven weeks – and each of the deaths is being treated as murder.
Four of the five alleged murder victims have been named as Amanda Sedgwick, Michelle Morris, Amy-Leanne Stringfellow and Claire Anderson. The identity of the other woman has not been revealed.
Police do not believe the deaths to be connected and are not looking for a serial killer, with a senior officer telling reporters: “These investigations are being treated in isolation and there is no link between any of the tragic incidents we have seen over the last two months. ”
However, it is an unusually high number of alleged murders in the South Yorkshire town, and the five incidents in the last seven weeks are proportionally much higher than last year’s homicide rate.
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The incidents have caused alarm in the town, and a vigil organised by Women’s Lives Matter was attended by hundreds of people last month after the first four deaths.
The event called for an end to violence against women.
The alleged murders are equivalent to almost a quarter of all homicides across the county last year (23), despite Doncaster being a town of just over 100,000 people.
South Yorkshire recorded 23 homicides in 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The body of Ms Sedgwick, 49, was found at a home in Askern at about 11pm on May 19.
A 48-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder.
He has since been released under investigation while enquiries continue.
Days after Ms Sedgwick’s body was discovered, Ms Morris, 52, suffered serious head injuries at a house in Stainforth.
Officers were called to the home on May 24 after reports of a disturbance.
She was rushed to hospital, but died three days later.
Two men, aged 47 and 33, and a 24-year-old woman, were arrested on suspicion of murder. All three were released on bail as investigations continue.
Ms Stringfellow, a 26-year-old mum, died after she was found injured at a house in Balby on June 5.
Her devastated family said: “Our hearts are broken and will never truly be repaired. You were beautiful and kind and inspired so many others.
“We know you will live on in your little girl. We love you all the pennies in the world.”
The personal trainer’s boyfriend, builder Terence Papworth, 45, has been charged with murder and is due to stand trial in November.
Unnamed woman, 28
Three days later, on June 8, the body of a 28-year-old woman was found in a property in nearby Mexborough.
She has not been named.
Two men aged 27 and 33 were arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder.
Claire Anderson, 35
Claire Anderson, 35, was found unconscious and unresponsive by paramedics at a home in Doncaster on Saturday night.
She was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.
Her death is being treated as unexplained.
A post-mortem carried out on Monday was inconclusive, said police.
A 38-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder. He has since been released under investigation.
What are the police saying?
Doncaster District Commander Chief Superintendent Shaun Morley said: “I understand that it is upsetting and concerning for people living in Doncaster, and the wider public, to read reports of such tragic deaths.
“I’d like to reassure everyone that thorough and extensive investigations are taking place by our dedicated officers.
“These investigations are being treated in isolation and there is no link between any of the tragic incidents we have seen over the last two months.
“The families of the women, who have sadly died, are all being supported by our family liaison teams.”
Vigil for women
A vigil was held in Doncaster’s Elmfield Park June following the deaths of Ms Morris, Ms Sedgwick, Ms Stringfellow and the 28-year-old woman.
It was organised by Women’s Lives Matter, giving family and friends an opportunity to say goodbye and call for an end to violence against women
Organiser Amy Cousens told the Doncaster Free Press: “We wanted to mark the lives of the women that have been lost, we want people to remember them and we want the perpetrators to know that we’re remembering them, but also this needs to end.”
She added: “To everyone affected by this, be angry, but act. We have to act to get our services back.
“We can’t accept that this is happening, we need proper intervention in our communities, we proper services and we need them now.”
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