Mansion fire turns murder inquiry

Millionaire mansion fire turns to murder inquiry

A murder inquiry has opened after detectives investigating a fire at the home of a millionaire businessman discovered that his wife had been shot dead before the house went up in flames.

Police said a second body has been uncovered in the wreckage of the mansion and is thought to be that of businessman Christopher Foster.

The body of his wife, Jill, 49, has already been identified and had a gunshot wound to the head.

Mr Foster’s daughter, Kirstie, 15, is still missing and has not been seen since the family attended a barbecue at a friend’s house last Bank Holiday Monday.

It is understood Kirstie was using an internet chat room until 1am on Tuesday morning when the power to the house was cut.

Police say the fire started hours later, swamping the mansion and outbuildings on the £1.2million estate. When the emergency services arrived at the premises, they found a horsebox parked in front of the electronic gates which had its tyres punctured.

Speculation emerged yesterday that the oil millionaire, who was heavily in debt, could have killed his wife and daughter before torching the house and shooting himself.

One other theory surfaced that the family had been murdered by a business associate of Mr Foster, who he owed money to.

Last night detectives said several lines of inquiry were being followed up: ‘Although it is now being treated as a murder, we are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances leading up to the incident,’ said Detective Superintendent Jon Groves of West Mercia Police.

Forensic teams are still assessing the wreckage of the house, but searches have been interrupted after fears parts of the burnt out building may collapse.

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