A pensioner was discovered murdered at her home in a quiet Northumberland market town after her handbag was found dumped 23 miles away.
Police cordoned off St Wilfrid's Road, Hexham, Northumberland, after 77-year-old Judith Richardson was found dead in a property, having suffered head injuries.
Police found the body of 77-year-old Judith Richardson at her house in Hexham, close to the town's historic abbey. She had suffered severe head injuries.
Miss Richardson's body was discovered after a member of the public found a discarded handbag in a bin in Newcastle upon Tyne city centre, half an hour's drive from the town.
Police investigated the contents, which led them to Mrs Richardson's address in St Wilfrid's Road, at around 6.45pm on Friday.
It is believed she had been bludgeoned to death with a weapon.
Detectives are investigating whether the handbag was abandoned after being stolen from Mrs Richardson's home during a violent burglary.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Young, of Northumbria Police, said: "What I will suggest is that the evidence indicates that there has been some kind of motive of either robbery or burglary.
"She appeared to have had injuries, but I wouldn't like to say what weapon was used."
DCI Young added: "We are working tirelessly to establish the exact circumstances and find those responsible.
"We ask anyone who may have been in the area at the time or witnessed any suspicious behaviour to contact police immediately.
"All information is crucial to us, no matter how insignificant you may think. We want to reassure the community that this appears to be an isolated incident and we do have visible officers on the beat in and around the Hexham area."
DCI Young said there were no signs of forced entry at the address. He added that Miss Richardson had been spotted on Friday morning walking her dog.
A force spokeswoman said: "At this stage it appears she had suffered a head injury."
A post mortem examination will be carried out on Sunday.
Anyone who has any information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 03456 043 043 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.