A husband was under police guard in hospital as a murder suspect yesterday after his wife and a friend were found dead in a house fire.
Neil Langmead was taken to hospital following a blaze which engulfed a house in Barnstaple, Devon, on Sunday (22/08) morning.
Police and firefighters found the bodies of two women – one of them Mr Langmead’s wife Debbie – who are both believed to have been stabbed.
A double murder inquiry has been launched but officers say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
Detective Superintendent Steve Carey of Devon and Cornwall Police said Mr Langmead has not yet been arrested because of his injuries.
He said: ”We have a suspect in hospital who is not yet under arrest because he is still receiving treatment. He is under police guard.
”We believe he was known to the victims and although it is every early days in the investigation we are not looking for anyone else at this time.
”Both of the deceased are women. Officers are speaking to family members at the moment.
”A major inquiry has been started using detectives from all over the force. Forensic examination will be carried out along with a post mortem.
”This appears to very a very and isolated incident albeit a very tragic one.”
Firefighters and police were called to the house in a quiet cul-de-sac at around 8am on Sunday after neighbours reported seeing smoke.
Other residents in the street later reported hearing banging noises coming from the property at around 3.30am
The women’s bodies are thought to have been found at the top floor of the house and Mr Langmead was also found inside.
He was taken from the house to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple where his condition is not known.
Sources claim he had also suffered stab wounds in the incident but police have not confirmed this.
The identity of the second woman has not been revealed.
Neighbour Dean Stanworth, 23, a hospital storeman, said: ”I looked out of my window and heard all the commotion going on, it sounded like a building site.
”People have said they were stabbed and that there had been a party that had got out of hand last night.”
Resident Josephine Palmer, 84, said her carer could hear a male voice shouting from inside the property during the night.
She said: ”My carer alerted the fire brigade as she could see smoke coming from the house.
”She rushed into my house and called 999. She knew there was someone in there because she could hear him shouting from inside.”
A team of detectives from Devon and Cornwall’s Major Crime Investigation are at the scene and forensic specialists have put up a protective incident tent in the back garden.
Superintendent Richard Baker said: ”This is a very early stage in the police inquiry and we are still trying to piece together the series of events which preceded this tragedy.
”We are still in the process of identifying the two bodies, how they came to be there and notifying next of kin. This is a very unusual incident.”
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