Man held over murder of Norma Bell

A murder probe was launched following the death of Norma Bell.
A murder probe was launched following the death of Norma Bell.

Police investigating the murder of a Hartlepool pensioner in her home have arrested a man in connection with the incident.

Detectives spent yesterday quizzing a 32-year-old man on suspicion of the murder of 79-year-old Norma Bell.

it is really important people do contact us if they feel they have anything of note for us

Detective Superintendant Alastair Simpson

The man was was arrested overnight on Tuesday.

Police have until today to decide whether to charge him, release him or apply to hold him for longer.

Mrs Bell was found in her home in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, early on Sunday.

Police say the blaze was started after she had died,

A Cleveland Police spokesman said yesterday: “Police have overnight arrested a 32-year-old man on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of 79-year-old Norma Bell in Hartlepool over the weekend.

“The man remains in police custody at this time.”

Meanwhile, a detailed search of Mrs Bell’s home continues.

Detective Superintendant Alastair Simpson, who is leading the inquiry, said it could take up to two weeks or longer due to the damage caused by the fire and the thoroughness of their search.

He said: “We need to make sure we don’t potentially destroy evidence while we are doing that.”

Police say they still want anyone who may have information to contact them.

Detective Superintendant Simpson said: “We are very grateful for the response we have got but it is really important other people do contact us if they feel they have anything of note for us.”

He said the response from Cleveland Police in investigating the crime has been “huge”, with a team of detectives and officers conducting house-to-house inquiries and the use of PCSOs as part of high-profile patrols to provide reassurance.

Police launched the murder investigation on Monday after a post mortem examination revealed Mrs Bell had already died prior to the fire being started early on Sunday.

On Tuesday, they said it appeared that hundreds of pounds was missing from her home.

Mrs Bell was mother to three of her own children and had fostered more than 50 children between 1964 and 2003 with her late husband John. She had lived in the property for 27 years and was due to celebrate her 80th birthday next month.

Anyone with information should call Cleveland Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.