Hunt for army veteran after woman and daughters killed in Bushey crossbow attack

A manhunt is under way after a mother and two daughters are believed to have been killed in a crossbow attack, triggering a massive search for the suspect – a 26-year-old British Army veteran.

Police said they urgently wanted to trace Kyle Clifford, 26, after being called to a house in Bushey, Hertfordshire, on Tuesday evening, where Carol Hunt, 61, and her daughters Hannah, 28, and Louise, 25, were found injured. They died shortly after at the scene.

Sources have told the Guardian that Carol Hunt was found in the hallway of the house with a crossbow bolt in her chest, while evidence of ligatures were found near the victims. One of the victims is understood to have texted her partner, urging them to call the police.

Clifford is believed to have served in the British Army for a year, sources have told the Guardian. The Ministry of Defence has been contacted for comment.

The women are understood to be the family of the BBC’s racing radio commentator, John Hunt. As part of a note sent to BBC 5 Live staff on Wednesday, the organisation described the incident as “utterly devastating”.

The Hunts have another daughter, Amy, who is thought to live in Birmingham.

Police said a crossbow or other weapons may have been used in the attacks, and they are investigating what relationship any of the victims may have had to Clifford.

The home secretary is urgently considering the findings of a Home Office review launched in 2021 to see if tougher crossbow laws need to be introduced.

A source said the victims were not gagged and bound when found, but there were ligature marks around their wrists and face, suggesting they had been and that these were removed. The source added that all of the victims had injuries to their knees.

The Guardian understands that one of the victims called 999 and alerted the police to the incident before the perpetrator fled.

Detectives have asked the public to report anything suspicious they saw in Ashlyn Close from midday on Tuesday, about seven hours before they found the women.

One source said the women may have been held hostage for hours before police were called. Police named Clifford in connection with the deaths and said they believed he was from Enfield, north London, about 16 miles from the scene.

Police said Clifford may be dangerous and have a crossbow.

On Wednesday morning armed police raided an address near Gordon Hill, Enfield, north London as the manhunt intensified. The property, in Rendlesham Road, is understood to have been linked to Clifford’s brother, Bradley, who was jailed for life in 2018 for murder.

Police appealed directly to Clifford to contact them, with officers continuing to search in Hertfordshire and London, having been warned he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Schools in the area were placed in lockdown.
Chief Supt Jon Simpson said: “Our overarching objective today is to protect public safety and to locate Kyle Clifford, who is wanted in connection with the murder of the three women in what we believe is a targeted incident.

“We have extensive police resources deployed to various locations in north London and also the Bushey area … The manhunt also involves armed police officers and specialist search teams responding at pace in the wake of what has been an horrific incident involving what is currently believed to be a crossbow, but other weapons may also have been used.”

Simpson made a direct appeal to Clifford: “Kyle, if you are seeing or hearing this, please make contact with the police via 999.”

A local resident said the area was in effect put into lockdown. The woman said: “It was between 6.30pm and 7pm last night and it literally just sounded like kids, somebody screaming, and then it was more shrill and I was like ‘that’s definitely a woman screaming’, and within 15 minutes, it was absolute chaos.

“We had armed police running down, screaming ‘stay in your house’ … they shut us off and basically put us into lockdown.”

Two air ambulances – one from London – along with ambulances and other paramedics were sent to the scene.

The home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said on social media: “The loss of three women’s lives in Bushey last night is truly shocking. My thoughts are with the family & friends of those who have been killed & with the community.

“I am being kept fully updated. I urge people to support @HertsPolice with any information about this case.”

A local councillor, Laurence Brass, who lives close by, said: “At 7pm last night a helicopter landed on the lawn in the development I live in, which is 100 yards away from here, but it was an air ambulance, I’m told, and then rumours started circulating about a crossbow.

“The worst thing that’s ever happened in this part of Bushey is a bit of illegal fly-tipping and then suddenly we get three murders and we’re all a bit shellshocked.

“This is a very traditional, quiet, leafy suburb, we don’t get this sort of thing in this area and I want residents to know that the council will be ensuring that the liaison team is down here and doing everything they can to comfort them and make sure that they are reassured that everything is being done.

“But we’re worried that this guy is still floating around somewhere.”

 

Updated: Juli 10, 2024 — 4:50 pm

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