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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 07:34 GMT
Extra time to quiz murder suspect
Sarah Merritt (left) and Sue Hale
The bodies of Sarah Merritt (left) and Sue Hale were found in the flat
Police have been given extra time to question a man who was arrested over the murders of a disabled woman and her carer at a flat in Southampton.

A 47-year-old man, who is from Southampton, was held in Swanage, Dorset, on Saturday morning.

Detectives now have until Tuesday evening to question him about the murders of Sue Hale, 49, and carer Sarah Merritt, 39.

The bodies were found in a flat in Townhill Park on Thursday.

Police revealed Mrs Merritt died from stab wounds.

Sarah was a kind and loving person whose loss has devastated our whole family
Peter Merritt

A police spokeswoman said a post-mortem examination carried out on Ms Hale on Saturday revealed she also died as a result of stab wounds.

Police are viewing CCTV footage taken from the block of 10 flats, which were evacuated as the investigation got under way.

Officers broke into the ground-floor flat on Thursday at 1720 GMT and found the bodies of the two women.

It is believed the alarm was raised by the care worker's council employer and her husband, who reported her missing.

Meggeson Avenue, Southampton
The block of flats have been cordoned off and evacuated
Ms Hale suffered from cerebellar ataxia, a rare degenerative brain disorder which caused her difficulties in walking and led to her using walking sticks and a mobility scooter to get around.

Mrs Merritt, who was married with two children, was her care worker who visited twice a week to help bathe Ms Hale.

In a statement the family of Ms Hale said: "We remember Sue as a happy, outgoing and bubbly person, who was loved dearly and will be missed greatly.

"Despite the challenges that her disability posed, she always faced them with humour and dignity.

"We are finding it very difficult to come to terms with her death and cannot understand why this had happened to such a vulnerable, loving person."

'Proud carer'

Mrs Merritt's husband, Peter, 41, of Oaktree Road, said: "Sarah was a kind and loving person whose loss has devastated our whole family.

"She was proud to be a carer and was happy to provide comfort and support for those she cared for.

"She was a loving mother to our two children and always strived to do the best for her family. As well as my wife she was my best friend."

Mrs Merritt was a care worker employed by agency Carewatch which was contracted by Southampton City Council, according to police.

Stabbed woman's sister 'shocked'
16 Mar 07 |  Hampshire
Dead women in flat 'were stabbed'
16 Mar 07 |  Hampshire
Two women found dead in city flat
15 Mar 07 |  Hampshire

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