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Police 'Formally Link' John Suddard And Betty Yates Stabbings After Arrest

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The murder of a retired teacher stabbed to death at her home and that of a clergyman killed at his vicarage have been "formally linked", detectives said.

West Mercia Police officers investigating the murder of retired teacher Betty Yates, 77, at her home in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on 2 January say they are working with officers investigating the stabbing of the Reverend John Suddards, 59, in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, last Tuesday.

Yates was found dead at the bottom of stairs at her home on the banks of the River Severn on 4 January, having been killed two days earlier. Mr Suddards's body was discovered on 14 February by workmen who arrived to carry out work at the vicarage.

A West Mercia Police spokesman said tonight: "It can also be confirmed that, following close liaison with Avon and Somerset Police, detectives have formally linked the murder of Yates to the murder of the Reverend John Suddards in South Gloucestershire.

"Reverend Suddards, 59, was found dead in his home in Thornbury on Tuesday 14 February, 2012. Like Mrs Yates, he had been stabbed to death."

Stephen Farrow, 47, was arrested in Folkestone, Kent, in the early hours of this morning in connection with Suddards's death after a nationwide appeal by Avon and Somerset Police.

His arrest came hours before a senior church figure said the clergy should continue to open their doors to "people who are distressed and angry" in the wake of Suddards's murder.

The Venerable Geoffrey Sidaway, Archdeacon of Gloucester, spoke after taking the Sunday morning service at St Mary's Church, saying it was not the time for the clergy to close their doors.

"By the nature of the position, clergy are often dealing with people who are distressed and angry, and that can put us in very vulnerable situations," he said.

"The door must stay open - that is the whole point of the job.

"We need to be a church with an open door which is there to welcome and to help everyone."