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EDITIONS
Saturday, 8 February, 2003, 16:38 GMT
Grief of murdered student's family
Marsha McDonnell pictured with friends
Marsha McDonnell 'loved her friends and loved life itself'
The family of murdered teenager Marsha McDonnell have told how they have been "torn to pieces" by her brutal death.

Her uncle Shane McDonnell said the murder had devastated her parents, sisters Nathalie and Maya, and her five-year-old brother Jack.

Miss McDonnell, 19, was clubbed three times over the head with a blunt instrument just yards from her home in Priory Road, Hampton, just after midnight on Tuesday.

Police believe it was an "unprovoked stranger attack" but say the motive is a complete mystery, as nothing had been stolen and she had not been sexually assaulted.

Second investigation

Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Cook said since the murder appeal, another girl had come forward to report waking up in hospital with head injuries.

She had been heading home, not far from Priory Road on 8 January and it was assumed she had slipped on ice.

Mr Cook said: "We are now looking again at her injuries and trying to determine if it could be connected to this incident."

Miss McDonnell's life support was switched off on Wednesday and her parents have asked for privacy to grieve.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Mr McDonnell said they could take small comfort from the news that she would have been unconscious within seconds.

CCTV footage of Martha
Miss McDonnell was not followed off the bus

He said: "Marsha was a shining light in this world, a star that shone bright in her lifetime

"Her mother and father have had their hearts torn to pieces."

He added it was horrifying her murderer was still at large and asked anyone with any information to contact the police and help bring "one element of this tragedy to a close".

Officers have been checking her mobile phone records as well as searching drains and making house-to-house inquiries on Saturday.

Mr Cook said some items had been recovered and sent for forensic examination - but nothing significant had been found.

Random attack

They believe Miss McDonnell, who was taking a year out after her A-levels, was probably killed in a random attack by either a mentally-disturbed stranger or a would-be sex attacker or robber.

CCTV footage of her getting off the 111 bus from Kingston after a night out at the cinema shows she was not followed.

But Mr Cook appealed for seven men who were on the bus at the time to come forward as they may have important information.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mike Sergeant
"Police think she never even saw her killer"
Shane McDonnell, Marsha McDonnell's uncle
"Marsha was a shining light in this world"

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See also:

07 Feb 03 | England
07 Feb 03 | England
06 Feb 03 | England
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