Derbyshire murder victim named as wife of councillor - as he fights for life in hospital today

A woman murdered in her Derbyshire home has been named as the wife of a councillor and former mayor – as he fights for his life in hospital.

By Jon Ball
Monday, 17th January 2022, 11:22 am

And neighbours have said the couple – named locally as Kenneth and Freda Walker – may have been attacked during a burglary.

Ambulance crews were called to Langwith Junction, near Shirebook, yesterday, Saturday, at 9.30am, after receiving reports of a couple with serious injuries.

When they arrived at a house on Station Road, they found the woman dead and her husband badly hurt.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Archive photo of Ken and Freda Walker, while he was serving as chairman of Bolsover Council.

He was rushed to hospital where he is being treated for ‘life-threatening injuries’.

Derbyshire Police have launched a murder investigation, but have not yet confirmed whether they are looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

Police say the family of the couple have been made aware and are being supported by specialist officers.

Shocking incident

Chief Superintendent Hayley Barnett speaking to the media at the crime scene on Station Road, Langwith Junction.

Chief Superintendent Hayley Barnett, divisional commander, said: “This is an understandably shocking incident for the community in Langwith Junction and our thoughts are with everyone affected – in particular those family and friends of the man and woman.

“Residents in and around Station Road will see an increased police presence in the coming days and I want to reassure all those in the area that all force resources, as well as regional colleagues from the East Midlands major crime team, are working to understand the full circumstances of this incident.

“I urge anyone who has any information about the incident to contact the force, in confidence, as a matter of urgency.”

Neighbours have said the elderly couple were attacked by a burglar who broke into their semi-detached property.

Ken and Freda Walker.

The woman who died has been named locally as 86-year-old Freda Walker while her husband Kenneth, a former mayor of Bolsover, sat on Shirebrook Town Council, representing Shirebrook Langwith Ward.

Mr Walker, a retired mining safety inspector who celebrated his 88th birthday on Thursday, remains in intensive care with life-threatening injuries.

Nice people

Residents and friends of the couple expressed shock today.

A dog walker, who passes through Station Road every Sunday morning, was a friend of the couple.

He said: "This is very quiet area. I was an acquaintance of Kenneth and Freda. They were very nice people.

“Kenneth used to be a local councillor heavily involved in the area.

“A long time ago, he was the mayor of Bolsover I think.

“They were always a nice couple and ready to speak to you. I spoke to Mrs Walker regularly as I walk the dog through here – more so in the summer.

“Yesterday, I had been fishing all day and came home and heard what had happened and my partner told me that there had been an attack in their house.

“Then I found out Ken is critical in hospital. It is horrible to hear.

“I just knew them as a inviting and lovely couple. I always used to wave at them as I walked by.”

Devoted

A neighbour said: “Ken and Freda were devoted to each other. This has shocked everyone who knew them.”

Another resident said: "We are totally shocked. We didn’t hear a thing – nothing.

“We didn't know them, we've only just moved to the area ourselves. We didn't even know their names.

“It is a really quiet area – odd bit of trouble, especially with living on the main road. But nothing like this. Really sad."

Another neighbour, two doors down from the couple, said: "I knew of their names because this a close-knit area – everybody knows everybody.

“It is shocking and upsetting. I have lived on this street for 53 years. It has been a lovely area to live. It is really sad.

“You would see Kenneth and Freda now and again but that was it. This is just shocking.”

A resident who lived on the neighbouring estate of Primrose Way, said: "The police came to visit me this morning, as they have done with all the neighbours in the estate, just to see if I had heard anything.

“I've heard it was a some sort of break-in or burglary there, I didn't know them.

“I heard this morning that it was an elderly couple and the lady had died. The gentleman is in intensive care.

“The police are not revealing much information to use either. We're looking for updates.

“It is just shocking - you don't expect to hear something like this happen in a quiet residential estate.”

Cordon

Police have cordoned off the couple's home which backs onto several allotments.

An alleyway by the side of the house has also been sealed off.

Police have confirmed they are not treating the murder as a ‘domestic incident’.

A force spokesman said: “At this time the only thing that we can say is that it is not a domestic incident.”

A tearful well-wisher, who was seen delivering flowers at the property, said: “He [Kenneth] worked in the pit for years. It is very sad.

“They were a lovely couple.

“They are in a dark area with their house being beside an alleyway.

“That’s where whoever broke-in came from I think. The back of the house is pitch black at night.”

A message on flowers from the same neighbour, said: “To the best friend anyone could ever have had in their lives, I shall miss you so much.

“I can’t believe this has happened to the nicest person on this earth.”

Horrific incident

Derbyshire Police described the couple’s injuries as “horrific” and warned residents to lock their doors and windows while officers hunted the killer.

Speaking at the murder scene, Ms Barnett said: “This couple were well known here. I know many people who knew them were shocked by this horrific incident.

"I want to appeal to anybody who has any information in relation to this incident to come forward as a matter of urgency.

"I must confirm that no arrests have been made in this case and this is not a domestic incident.

"If you were in the area on January 14 through to 15, please contact police officers as we especially want to find anybody who may have any dashcam footage and anybody in the area that has CCTV.

"We have got officers from our major crime unit, which is a regional team, who are working hard and working with a number of lines of enquiry, all in the effort to try and identify who is responsible for this horrific incident and to bring them to justice.”

Ms Barnett confirmed Mr Walker suffered ‘horrific injuries and is in a critical condition in hospital’.

She said: “We wish him all the best and I really hope he has a speedy recovery, he is in the best care at the moment.

“The family are aware, but I am not sure if the family are by his side at this time.”

Police refused to confirm how Mrs Walker died.

Ms Barnett said: "While I cannot talk about the mechanics of how the injuries happened, what I do urge people to do is to carry out good security in relations to their homes.

“Keep their doors and windows locked and do not let any strangers in. Don't keep any valuables on display.

“And to have a means of making contacting with emergency services if needs be.

“Investigators are looking at the broadest possible range of scenarios alongside other forces to consider whether or not there are any other offences that might be connected to this.”