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Anthony Marsh continues to be questioned over Stephanie Bellinger murder
DETECTIVES were today continuing to quiz a young dad suspected of killing his partner and their baby daughter.
The 21-year-old, named by detectives as the prime suspect in the killings of his partner Stephanie Bellinger and their ten-month-old daughter Lili, had been at large since their bodies were discovered on Saturday morning.
Stephanie, 24, died from multiple stab wounds. A post-mortem examination was due to be carried out this morning on Lili but was expected to confirm she had died the same way.
Yesterday morning the Daily Echo broke the news of Marsh’s arrest after he was approached by a police officer in the street more than 20 miles from his hometown of Totton.
After confirming his name, Marsh was taken to a police station and arrested on suspicion of murder.
It is understood the former Hounsdown School and Brockenhurst College student was assessed by a doctor before being questioned by detectives.
The arrest of Marsh came shortly after a moving statement made by Stephanie’s family, who described how an enormous hole had been left by the deaths of Stephanie and Lili.
They said: “Stephanie was a fun-loving free spirit who was always happy and smiling. Stephanie was a wonderful daughter, sister, aunt and mother.
“Lili was a bouncing, happy little baby who was a delight to be with – a little chatterbox who brought joy to our lives.
There are no words to describe how we as a family are all feeling.
“We now have a huge hole in our lives which we have to try and come to terms with. We ask that as a family we all be given our privacy at this upsetting time.”
The family were told the news of Marsh’s arrest by their police family liaison officer.
Throughout yesterday the £250,000 semi-detached cul-de-sac home Stephanie shared with Marsh remained cordoned off by officers.
The pair had moved into the Myrtle Avenue property 18 months ago. They have a two-year-old son, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and went on to have Lili in April last year.
One of Stephanie’s parents is said to have made the gruesome discovery at around 9am on Saturday.
Forensic experts worked throughout the day both inside and outside the property, examining the scene and looking for clues to how the tragedy occurred.
At one stage, a pair of specialist investigators, wearing protective white suits, centred their search on a hedgerow about 200 metres from the road.
They photographed the area before appearing to pull an item from the undergrowth and placing it immediately in a bag. Police have yet to confirm what they found.
Detectives leading the inquiry have also not confirmed whether the murder weapon has been recovered.
Meanwhile, the number of floral tributes continued to grow next to the police cordon, as friends and shocked neighbours came to pay their respects.
Corinne Ash-Hill, who knows Stephanie’s sister, came with her two children Alyssa, 5, and Gracie, 3, to leave flowers.
She said: “I did not want to believe it was her they were talking about.
Being a mother myself, it really brings it home to you how terrible this is.”
Emma O’Sullivan, 27, from Totton, came to lay flowers yesterday afternoon with her friend Kirsty Tegg.
Emma said: “I knew her through college but I didn’t know them well.
Totton is quite a close-knit community and you tend to know a lot of faces.
“We’ve both got young children so I had seen her a few times. It hits home when something like this happens in the local community.
Kirsty, 26, also from Totton, added: “We just thought the whole thing was very sad and we wanted to lay some flowers to pay our respects. I just knew of her from being around Totton, you tend to see similar faces.”
Additional reporting by Julian Robinson