The suspected killer of Gracie Spinks found dead in an apparent murder-suicide has been named by police as Michael Sellers.
Spinks was found on Friday morning with serious injuries in the paddocks where she kept her horse near Duckmanton in Derbyshire and died at the scene. Police confirmed she was killed by a man she knew who was found dead in a field less than a mile away.
Sellers, 35, from Sheffield, is reported to be a former work colleague who became infatuated with Spinks.
Derbyshire police said it had referred itself to the police watchdog because of contact it had with Spinks this year.
According to reports, Gracie is said to have filed a restraining order against a man whom friends said she had been on a date with and who had become “obsessed with her”.
In a Facebook post, her mother, Alison Heaton, paid tribute to her “beautiful daughter”, who she said had been “taken away from me, her dad and brother and sister and everyone who loved and cared for her”. She also shared a photograph of Spinks with the tag “Stop violence against women”.
Campaign group Reclaim These Streets said it was “horrified” by the news. “Yet another young woman taken from her family and loved ones,” it tweeted. “The violence against women at the hands of men is a global epidemic that needs to be prioritised and dealt with now.”
In the villages surrounding the field where Gracie was killed, residents said they were shocked and angry about her death.
Some said the killing had created a sense of fear in the area. “I wouldn’t let my daughter walk to school alone this morning,” said a woman in Poolsbrook, a few miles from where the incident took place. “He might be dead but there are others like him out there. He just looked like a normal guy.”
A collection of flowers, cards and balloons had been left near the field where Gracie was found, as well as in the centre of Old Whittington, the village where she lived.
“Love you always and I’ll never forget your smile,” read one message. “Remembering such a beautiful and kind loving young lady who has been taken far too soon,” said another.
Derbyshire police also confirmed a member of the public found a bag containing weapons in Duckmanton, near to where Gracie was killed in May and handed this in to police.
Local resident Anna White said she found a rucksack with “extremely disturbing” contents including a number of weapons, such as an axe and knives, six weeks ago. It is not known whether this is connected with Gracie’s death.
The IOPC said: “We can confirm we have received a referral from Derbyshire police following the death of a woman in Duckmanton, Derbyshire on Friday 18 June.
“We will assess the referral and decide on our level of involvement, if any, in due course. Our thoughts remain with the woman’s family.”