A murder investigation has been launched after the body of an elderly woman was discovered at a Worcestershire cottage.
The woman, in her 70s, was found dead at the property on the outskirts of Bewdley on Wednesday morning after a friend, concerned for the pensioner's welfare, contacted police.
A spokeswoman for West Mercia Police said: "Officers are in close contact with next-of-kin but the woman has not yet been formally identified and some relatives have yet to be informed."
Detective Chief Inspector Tony Love said: "An elderly woman has lost her life in the most tragic circumstances and it is vital that anyone who has information that could help our inquiries comes forward immediately.
"The cottage is in an isolated spot, which is understood to be popular with anglers, dog walkers, ramblers and off-road cyclists. We urgently need to speak to anyone who was in that area between lunchtime on Monday and around 9am yesterday and may have noticed anything suspicious, including any vehicles that might have been there in unusual circumstances.
"The slightest detail could be important to our investigation so if you know anything at all then please get in touch."
The large cottage is situated on a track between Dowles Road and the River Severn, around two miles from Bewdley. The area was cordoned off by police last night.
Police search teams scoured a lengthy track on the western bank of the River Severn today while three police vehicles could be seen near the cottage with six more parked beside the Severn in the track off Dowles Road, near the remains of a disused railway bridge.
A barman in the town centre, who asked not to be named, told the Press Association: "This is a small place so the news is all over town."
Anyone with information is urged to call the Major Incident Room at Stourport police station on 0300 333 3000, quoting incident reference 82-S-040112, or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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