Police find murdered woman’s handbag

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DETECTIVES investigating the murder of Jia Ashton have finished searching the woods where her body was found.

Officers reopened Sleetmoor Woods in Somercotes to the public on Saturday, March 19, after spending the week searching it for evidence after 24-year-old Mrs Ashton’s body was found on Sunday afternoon.

Officers have revealed Mrs Ashton’s handbag was found in the woods but detectives believe some of her belongings may still be unaccounted for.

Mrs Ashton, who was married and lived in Springfield Crescent, Somercotes, worked at nearby Thornton’s chocolate factory. She had been reported missing by her husband, named locally as Matthew, a music teacher, on Friday evening.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cotterill said: “The woods have been cordoned off since Mrs Ashton’s body was discovered there on Sunday, March 13. I would like to thank local residents and workers from the neighbouring industrial estate for their patience while the wood was closed to the public.

“It was a painstaking search, but we have recovered Mrs Ashton’s handbag. It will now undergo forensic tests, the results of which we can expect next week.

“I can’t be totally confident that all of Mrs Ashton’s belongings are accounted for because we can’t be sure exactly what property was in her bag when she left her work at Thorntons on the evening of her death.”

He renewed his appeal for anyone with information to come forward and dispelled rumours of a second body found in the 33-acre woods that have been circulating in the community since the 24-year-old’s death.

He said: “There have been rumours that we have discovered a second body in Sleetmoor Woods, but I would like to reassure residents that this is not the case. This is merely speculation, which is totally unfounded.”

Officers are still keen to speak to speak to anyone who was in the area of Sleetmoor Woods, which is owned by Derbyshire County Council and popular with walkers and people with dogs, between 4pm and 7pm on Thursday, March 10.

Anyone with information should contact Deryshire police on 0345 123 3333 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.