The British grandmother killed in her Italian dream home was knifed seven times in the back and may have been killed in her sleep, it has been claimed.
Michele Faiers, 66, was discovered lying in a pool of blood in her first-floor bedroom by her friend inside her rural home in Verratti village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy, on Wednesday morning.
Killed in her sleep
The mother-of-two was found on the floor next to her bed, dressed in her underwear and covered in a white sheet with just her feet poking out, an investigative source said.
There were no signs of a struggle and police are now investigating whether Michele was killed in her sleep, a source told the Times.
Cops are now hunting Michele’s partner Michael Whitbread, 74, a retired IT consultant originally from Torquay, after he allegedly left the scene in the couple’s white Jeep Compass before police could question him.
Investigations so far….
Investigators said it is ‘only a matter of time’ before they find Mr Whitbread, who is feared to have fled Italy and has been described by police as ‘intelligent, competent and able’.
But investigators said while Mr Whitbread is the prime suspect in Michele’s murder, ‘there is no smoking gun here’.
Police told MailOnline they had yet to find the murder weapon but were waiting for the autopsy to confirm what was used to stab Michele.
The couple had been living in the house in the countryside near the commune of Palombara, where 100 British expats live, for the past four years and were described by local residents as ‘very private’.
Neighbour Luana D’Angelo told MailOnline: ‘They were quite private and didn’t really interact with the community as they couldn’t speak much Italian but they would always smile and say hello.
‘They had three dogs and the last time I saw them a week ago they were in the garden in front of their house but there was nothing untoward.
‘I just can’t believe he could do something like that if it was him because they always seemed so happy together.’
Michele, a mother of two daughters, was found by friend Petrina Keay who had travelled from the nearby commune of Palombaro, where 100 British expats live, after they called her yesterday morning but received no response.
Ms Keay had not heard from her for three days and had become increasingly concerned so decided to check up on her, police said.
Neighbours said they heard her screaming in horror at finding the 66-year-old in a pool of blood on the floor next to her bed and called the police who arrived at the home in the countryside.
Michele was stabbed seven times in the back, police confirmed to MailOnline, though conflicting reports gave differing accounts of how many times she was stabbed and precisely where.
‘No sign of struggle’
‘She was found on the floor in her bedroom next to the bed, dressed in underwear and covered in a white sheet,’ an investigative source said.
‘There was no sign of a struggle and she was possibly stabbed in her sleep but we await the forensic examination to find out more.’
Michele was found by police in her first-floor bedroom and the keys to the house were reportedly still in the front door.
Police have issued an ‘all ports alert’ and are hunting for Mr Whitbread who is thought to be in the couple’s white Jeep Compass which is missing.