Police today confirmed that they have launched a murder investigation after naming the OAP found dead in her Hartlepool home.
Mother-of-three Norma Bell, 79, who also cared for more than 50 foster children, was due to celebrate her 80th birthday next month.
Police confirmed Ms Bell had died before a fire reported at her house in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, yesterday morning, where she had lived for 27 years.
Police launch murder investigation following death of elderly woman in Hartlepool
Cleveland Police appealed for anyone who might have seen something or anyone with private CCTV to come forward.
And Detective Superintendent Alastair Simpson, the man leading the murder hunt, urged people to look out for elderly neighbours, and report anything unusual.
"Whilst it is too early to say what the motive is or whether the suspect was known to Mrs Bell, I would remind anyone in the local area who may have an elderly or vulnerable relative or neighbour to check on them. Check that there is nothing out of the ordinary in relation to them or their property."