12/01/2012 07:03 GMT

Retired Teacher Betty Yates Was Stabbed In The Neck At Home, Inquest Hears

A retired schoolteacher found dead in her cottage by police had been stabbed in the neck, an inquest was told on Thursday.

The body of Betty Yates was found at the foot of her stairs at the house down an isolated track in Bewdley, Worcestershire. Police were alerted by a friend who was concerned for the 77-year-old's welfare.

Officers went to the cottage, which overlooks the River Severn, on 4 January where they found the body of the widow at the foot of stairs. The cause of death was given provisionally as stab wounds to the neck at the inquest following a post mortem examination which was carried out two days after her death.

Opening and adjourning the inquest at Worcestershire Coroners Court, coroner Geraint Williams released the body of Mrs Yates, who was born in Birmingham, back to the family for a funeral service.

The court heard she is to be cremated.

The hearing was adjourned until 1 March for further inquiries to be made and where the progress of the case will be reviewed.

West Mercia Police have launched a murder inquiry into Mrs Yates's death and investigations are continuing.

A knife, believed to be the murder weapon, was recovered at the scene.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Jamieson described the killing as a "horrendous" offence committed against a pillar of the community.

In a statement he said: "We will not rest until Betty's killer is caught and I would appeal directly to that person not to wait until that happens and to contact us now.

"We believe someone out there knows what happened or suspects who was responsible.

"This was a callous attack on a much-loved and respected member of the community and the smallest snippet of information could have an important bearing on our investigation."

Friends and ex-pupils held a candlelit vigil last week to remember the retired teacher.