A double murder probe is underway after a mother-of-three was killed alongside her new partner in the early hours of New Year’s Day – just months after leaving her headteacher husband and ‘getting her life back together’.
The female victim – named locally as PE teacher Helen Almey, 39 – was found dead at the home she once shared with her estranged spouse Rhys Hancock, also 39.
A man, believed to be her new partner but who has not been named, also died at the property in the upmarket village of Duffield, near Derby, and both were believed to have been stabbed to death.
Someone was heard screaming from the house: ‘They’re dead! They’re dead! What have you f******g done?’ at about 3am before the police arrived and arrested a 39-year-old-man at the scene on suspicion of two counts of murder.
A former neighbour said Helen separated from her husband Rhys in 2019 and they have three children under ten.
He said: ‘She was a lovely girl, just lovely. The marriage was on and off. Then last year she plucked up the courage to kick him out for good. Then about six months ago she started seeing this guy, she was really getting her life together. I know Rhys turned up at the house at Christmas.’
A grey Seat MPV, believed to be Mr Hancock’s, had been abandoned in the middle of the street with its driver’s door open and was towed away by police.
Investigation: A double murder probe was underway yesterday in Duffield after police had been called to the scene at 4am. The MPV is believed to be Mr Hancock’s and was found in the middle of the road
A cordon remains in place at the property today (pictured) where Helen and her new partner have been murdered
His wife’s Seat and a Honda Civic believed to belong to her boyfriend’s were untouched on the drive.
Helen’s 39-year-old husband was made headteacher of a school in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, last May but is believed to have since left.
The neighbour added: ‘I don’t know too much about him [her new partner] but I think they met through some sports club. She loved netball and keep-fit and was a keen runner.
Police had been called to the scene at 4am. Paramedics arrived shortly afterwards but could do nothing to save the two murder victims.
Neighbours said Miss Almey, who had reverted to her maiden name, had recently started a relationship after separating from Mr Hancock, the father of her children, aged nine, seven and four.
Helen, who started using her maiden name Almey again, split with her husband Rhys this year as their relationship soured
Helen was well-known and much loved in her village, where many said they were bereft for her children
The youngsters are not thought to have been in the house at the time of the attack.
Last night neighbours spoke of their horror at the double murder.
Miss Almey, a graduate of Loughborough University, was well-known in the community and helped out with the neighbourhood watch and played for local sports teams.
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: ‘The mother and the children were lovely.’
The couple bought their detached home on the outskirts of Derby in 2014 for £295,000 and it’s now valued at around £400,000. Forensic officers remained at the scene of the crime yesterday.
A blue tent had been erected on the front drive, and one in the back garden where patio doors were open.
Neighbours said they heard nothing overnight but woke to find the quiet street full of police cars and ambulances.
A grey Seat had been abandoned in the middle of the street with its driver’s door open. It was later taken away by police.
Two other cars, another grey Seat understood to belong to Miss Almey, and a Honda Civic believed to be her boyfriend’s, remained on the drive. Early reports that there had been a party at the address were dismissed by both neighbours and police, who said they were not aware of anyone else being at the house at the time of the killings.
One neighbour said: ‘I woke up this morning and had a look outside to see what the New Year was looking like.
‘I was shocked to see all the police tape attached to my gate.’
Family: Neighbours said Mrs Almey had recently started a relationship after separating from Mr Hancock, who is the father of her children, aged nine, seven and four
Mrs Almey, a graduate of Loughborough University, was well-known in the community and helped out with the neighbourhood watch
Forensic officers at the scene in Duffield, Derbyshire after two people were found dead
The neighbour added: ‘I guess something serious happened because of the men in white suits. Everything was fine last night and we entered 2020 fine.
‘We went to bed at around 1am. There were lots of fireworks, but nothing unusual.’
Another local said: ‘We awoke and the whole street was crawling with police. This is a quiet area so everybody is naturally very shocked. It’s very unnerving that this has happened on our doorstep. My husband and I are just feeling numb.’
Police refused to say how the pair had died, or comment on if there had been any previous visits by officers to the address.
Family liaison officers were seen at the Duffield home of Miss Almey’s sister and her parents yesterday. The family were too distressed to comment.
Detectives were also at the home of her estranged husband’s parents’ house ten miles away in Etwall, Derbyshire.
In a statement, a police spokesman said: ‘We were called to the house at 4.11am and found a man and a woman fatally injured inside’.
A 39-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of two counts of murder. Detectives are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
‘There was no one else in the property at the time.
‘Formal identification of the victims has yet to take place and specially trained liaison officers are supporting their families.’