A community in shock over teenager’s murder

Herald Series: Floral  tributes to teenage murder victim, Jayden Parkinson, at All Saints’ Church, Didcot. Pictures: Damian Halliwell Floral tributes to teenage murder victim, Jayden Parkinson, at All Saints’ Church, Didcot. Pictures: Damian Halliwell

A COMMUNITY was in mourning yesterday after the discovery of a body that police believe is Jayden Parkinson.

Friends and strangers laid flowers and left cards outside All Saints’ Church in Didcot where the body was found buried in a grave with no headstone.

As mourners came to the Lydalls Road crime scene, police were seen leaving with large black dustbins and bags of evidence.

Jayden’s death has united the community in shock and grief.

Paige Bumpass, 18, who used to go to Didcot Girls’ School with Jayden, said: “She was bubbly and always a laugh. No matter what, she always had a smile on her face.

“She was always there for people and even if you had a fall-out, no matter how bad it was, she always wanted to be friends and forget about it.”

And the teenager from Harwell added: “It is just horrendous. We just don’t believe it. It feels unreal.”

A 21-year-old friend, who asked not to be named, said: “We are absolutely gutted. It makes me sick to think it is so close to home and it has happened in our group of people.”

A post mortem was carried out on the body yesterday but a Thames Valley Police spokesman said the findings as to the cause of death were inconclusive.

Formal identification of the body has yet to take place.

Det Chief Supt Andrew Murray, the officer leading the murder investigation, held a press conference yesterday morning at which he said Jayden’s body was removed from the Great Western Cemetery grave late on Wednesday night.

He said: “We had prepared Jayden’s family for the worst, but I am afraid nothing can prepare you for the loss of your child.

“They remain heartbroken, they remain devastated and our thoughts are with them at this time.”

Bunches of flowers were left outside the church yesterday.

Notes left outside read: “Heaven has gained another angel”, “RIP sweetie,” and “Life is not fair. You have been stolen from your family and friends from an action of others.”

Another said: “Beautiful Jayden. You will forever stay in our hearts. So sorry for you and your family.”

Herald Series:

Jayden Parkinson

Didcot resident Michelle Mills said her daughter was too upset to lay flowers at the scene where the body had been found.

She said: “It is so sad. I cannot believe it. I didn’t know her that well but she was a lovely, beautiful girl. It is devastating.”

Robert Hogan, from Abbott Road, shook the hands of the police officers guarding the church. He said the crime was “appalling”, adding: “It is going to bring everyone together.”

Former Didcot Girls’ School pupil Jayden – who police say may have been pregnant – went missing from a hostel in Iffley Road, Oxford on Tuesday, December 3.

An intensive police search has seen properties across Didcot and land near Upton cordoned off and searched by detectives for days.

The teen’s 22-year-old boyfriend Ben Blakeley, of Christchurch Road, Reading, has been charged with her murder and a 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named, is accused of perverting the course of justice. Both are in custody awaiting court in March.

A 49-year-old man from Ladygrove in Didcot – who did not know Jayden – yesterday said: “It has affected everyone in Didcot – the whole town, especially the kids, because she was so young and fresh out of school.”

Toni Fox, 30, from Ladygrove, said she did not know Jayden but wanted to pay her respects. She said: “It has really hit the community hard.”

The Rev Karen Beck said the church would be reopened from 9am to 5pm today and from 9am to 7pm tomorrow for anyone in the community who wanted to pray.

Herald Series:

Reverend Karen Beck

The All Saints vicar, who will also lead prayers in the church at 7pm tomorrow, said: “People are shocked and devastated by what has happened and people are really feeling for Jayden’s family and what they are going through.”

Police spokeswoman Hannah Williams yesterday said police were continuing to patrol the town in an effort to reassure residents.

A landscaping firm was later seen bringing earth to the grave site and a house in Great Western Drive.

Oxford Coroners’ Court said an inquest was not likely to open before Tuesday.


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