A middle-aged mum and her teenage son were being quizzed by Spanish police today after being arrested over the murder of a British OAP.
Detectives confirmed early this morning they had made two arrests before later revealing the suspects were a 46-year-old Spaniard and her 16-year-old son.
Widow Monica Warren, 81, was shot dead on Wednesday and her body found under a bed at her £350,000 home near Elche a short drive from Alicante the same day.
A plumber the expat had called to her house for an emergency repair dialled 999 after seeing two people leave the property and speed away in a black Peugeot as he arrived and failing to raise Mrs Warren.
Detectives say they are working on the theory the female suspect shot her alleged victim dead before asking her son to move the body and help her dispose of evidence.
Police honed in on her after discovering her car had been gutted in a fire hours after the killing and she had reported the suspected murder weapon missing yesterday.
Above: Forensic officers inspect the crime scene in the Costa Blanca. Spanish police have confirmed the two people arrested over the murder of a British OAP on the Costa Blanca are a 46-year-old woman and her 16-year-old son
Detectives say the British woman and the detainees knew each other and are still trying to establish the possible motive for the crime.
Spain’s National Police in Alicante confirmed today: ‘The suspected authors of the homicide are a 46-year-old woman and her 16-year-old son. They are both Spanish.
‘Neither has a criminal record.
‘The weapon used to shoot the victim dead was found during a painstaking search of the place where her body was found and the area immediately around it.
‘She had been shot three times and scenes-of-crimes officers concluded her body had been moved from the place she was killed to the spot where she was found.’
The force added in a statement: ‘A key witness saw two people fleeing the scene and gave officers descriptions of them and their vehicles.
‘Investigators were subsequently alerted to a car fire in the city of Alicante which affected four other vehicles.
The killing took place in the town of Elche near Alicante on the Costa Brava on Spain’s south coast
‘The car coincided with the make and model of the vehicle mentioned by the witness.
‘An inspection of the gutted car led police to the suspects.
‘They profiled the female suspect and discovered that as well as being the owner of the vehicle that was gutted, she practiced target shooting and had a licensed pistol registered to her name of the same make and model as the murder weapon.
‘She had reported the .22 Beretta stolen the day after the British woman’s body was found.
‘She fitted the description the witness gave and so did her son.
‘Detectives are working on the basis the mum could be the suspected killer and was helped by her underage son in the commission of the crime, specifically in the moving of the victim’s body and the subsequent elimination of evidence including fingerprints.
‘Both suspects were tracked down yesterday and arrested.’
Detectives say they are still probing why Mrs Warren was killed, but say they have ruled out the idea she was shot dead by strangers in an opportunistic bungled burglary.
Widow Monica Warren, 81, was shot dead on Wednesday and her body found under a bed at her £350,000 home near Elche a short drive from Alicante the same day
The police spokesman said, opening up the possibility the Brit was the victim of someone with a grudge against her: ‘Although the motive is not yet known and the investigators are currently working on establishing it, the hypothesis this was a fortuitous robbery has been ruled out based on the fact that the victim and the detainees appeared to have known each other.’
Detectives have until Sunday to hold the pair in custody before handing them over to a judge for further questioning. They will appear in separate courts because of the son’s age.
In their first comments on the arrests early this morning a spokesman for Spain’s National Police in Alicante said: ‘The National Police has arrested the alleged killers of an 81-year-old British woman whose body was found with fatal gunshot wounds on Wednesday at a villa in an area near Elche called Maitino.
‘Investigators have arrested a man and a woman thanks to the swift response of police units tasked with fighting violent crime based in Elche and the provincial police HQ in Alicante, who have coordinated their work to locate both detainees and seize the possible murder weapon, which is a short-barrelled firearm.’
Little detail has so far been revealed about the murder victim, who is thought to have been born in Germany but became a naturalised British citizen after marrying a British man who neighbours said died from cancer several years ago.
He is understood to have owned a recycling firm in the UK before emigrating after his retirement.
Monica had lived alone for several years.