Man, 86, arrested on suspicion of murdering farmer's wife after remains discovered in septic tank

West Mercia Police officers searching a house in Kempsey, Worcestershire after female human remains were found in a septic tank on July 12 (Picture: PA)

An 86-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after the remains of a farmer’s wife were discovered in a septic tank.

Detectives investigating the discovery say they believe they are the remains of Brenda Venables, 48, who disappeared in 1982.

She was reported missing from the couple's then home in Bestmans Lane, Kempsey, by her husband David.

West Mercia Police launched a murder investigation after the discovery in a septic tank at the address in the Worcestershire village on July 12.

Brenda Venables went missing in 1982 (Picture: SWNS)

An 86-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.

On Tuesday, police officers were carrying out searches at the bungalow where Mr Venables now lives in the village.

Three marked cars including a police van and two unmarked cars were outside the detached property in the cul-de-sac, where a red estate car could be seen parked on the driveway.

Officers wearing gloves could also be seen inside the property.

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Police would not be drawn on activity at the scene other than to say it was "a line of investigation".

Neighbours of Mr Venables said he kept to himself and always had the blinds drawn at the front of his home.

"You can see the blinds are down and that's all of the time, and that's normal", said a female resident, who declined to be named. This is very quiet here."

She added that police had not been around since the arrest but did speak to neighbours after the remains, believed to be those of Mrs Venables, were discovered earlier this month.

"These things don't happen too often, luckily," she said. "It's quite astounding. To actually find somebody in a cesspit."

An 86-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody (Picture: PA)

She said: "We don't see him, really.

"He gets out of his bungalow and into his car and then comes back."

Another man, who lives a few doors down, said: "We've said hello to him, but we don't know him. It's a friendly, sleepy neighbourhood."

A force spokesman said detectives were still awaiting DNA results but "the general circumstances lead us to believe" that the remains are likely to be those of Brenda Venables.

Mrs Venables' husband, David (Picture: SWNS)

In May 1982, Mr Venables told the Worcester News: "I just woke up to find that she had gone.

"She has never done anything like this before and I haven't the faintest idea what has happened to her."

It is understood the remains were discovered after the tank was drained during routine maintenance.

Police said the formal identification process was likely to take a few weeks.