Police investigating a fire at the home of millionaire businessman Christopher Foster have announced they are now treating it as a murder inquiry, following confirmation that the two bodies found there are those of Foster, 50, and his wife.
A post-mortem examination has revealed that Jillian Foster, 49, from Osbaston House in Maesbrook, Shropshire, died of a gunshot wound to the head. She was positively identified from dental records.
Officers and forensics searching the ruins of the family home have also found a rifle next to the two bodies and spent and unspent gun cartridges scattered around the mansion’s grounds.
A horsebox was discovered rammed against the gates to prevent access and the family’s animals, including three horses, are reported to have been shot dead. The family’s cars were also set alight.
It is now known that the couple’s daughter, Kirstie, was chatting to friends on the internet from home, before being disconnected at 1am – a few hours before the fire broke out, her whereabouts are still unknown.
The exact facts surrounding the tragedy at Obaston house are as murky as ever.
Foster, his wife and their 15-yearold daughter, were announced missing last Tuesday, when the burnt-out ruins of their country mansion were first discovered.
Foster is known to have been facing financial ruin following the loss of his business with mounting debts of about £1.8m. A legal restriction was imposed on his mansion in May, blocking its sale without authorisation from corporate liquidators.
Special prayers for the family took place in Maesbrooke village church yesterday morning.