Reverend Jim Percival And Daughter Arrested Over Baby Boy's 'Murder'

Churchgoers have said prayers for their vicar after he, his wife and his daughter are being questioned over the alleged murder of a baby boy.

The Rev Jim Percival, 64, the vicar of Holy Trinity C of E Church in Freckleton, Lancashire, was arrested together with his 65-year-old wife Susan and 28-year-old daughter Ruth.

Mr Percival and his daughter are being questioned on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child.

His wife is being questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child.

The arrests on Tuesday came after police were called to an address in Freckleton - believed to be the vicarage - shortly before 6pm on November 25 following an initial report that a woman had given birth to a stillborn baby.

In a statement, Lancashire Constabulary said: "When police attended the body of a newly-born baby boy was discovered at the address and an investigation was launched. The baby's mother, a 28-year-old woman, was taken by ambulance to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where she was treated and later released.

"Following numerous inquiries the death of the baby boy is now being treated as suspicious.

"A post-mortem examination has been carried out and the cause of death is currently inconclusive. Further tests are now being carried out to try to establish exactly how the baby died.

"A 64-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman from Freckleton have been arrested on suspicion of murder, conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child...., and a 65-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child. They are all currently in custody.

"The police investigation continues."

Jim Percival

At Mr Percival's own church, parishioners said prayers for the vicar and his family at a service led by Reverend Terry Scholz, also from Holy Trinity Church.

"I simply said they could not be unaware of the tragedy that had befallen them, Reverend Percival and his family," he said.

"And I reminded them of this coming Sunday's reading - that God came to John the Baptist not in the comfort of his sitting room, but in the darkness and scariness of the wilderness, and God will be with our church family in the wilderness and we must pray that we keep our faith and pray for the family."

Police search Freckleton vicarage after vicar arrested

Mr Scholz said it would be wrong to "jump to conclusions" and said the wider "Church family" of parishioners at Holy Trinity would now pull together.

He added: "They are all nice people and, like any family going through difficult times, they will pull together. Like any family when it's going through troubles, you close ranks. They are all upset and concerned."

It is understood police were granted an additional 30 hours to question the three.

A police van was parked tonight outside the vicarage in a cul-de-sac.

A neighbour said: "It's all a bit of a shock. They are a quiet family. We only know them to say hello. I didn't even know the daughter was pregnant."

A spokesman for the Diocese of Blackburn said: "The diocese is aware of the situation regarding Rev Jim Percival and his family.

"We have been liaising closely with Lancashire Police and are offering pastoral support to the church and the local community and will continue to do so."

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