Sister arrested after woman found stabbed in field

Detectives have arrested the sister of a woman found stabbed to death in a field following a public appeal to trace her, sources said today.

The body of Karen Barton, 51, was discovered by dog walkers off Rentain Road, Chartham, near Canterbury, Kent, shortly after midnight on Sunday. Detectives from Kent Police announced that they wanted to speak to her sister Phoebe Barton, 49, who had not been seen since 7pm on Sunday.  Today a police spokeswoman said a 49-year-old woman was arrested overnight in Chilham on suspicion of murder and is currently in police custody.

A domestic knife has been recovered but officers have not disclosed how many times Ms Barton was stabbed.  The sisters lived together in Highland Road in the rural village and police said Phoebe had suffered from mental health problems since the death of her daughter Rachel, 33, in a car crash last year.  They were both unemployed and had never married. Ms Barton also had a daughter, Katie.

Detective Chief Inspector David Withers, who is leading the investigation, said earlier this week that police were concerned for the welfare of Phoebe.  Ms Barton’s body was found by dog walkers in a field known locally as Pickett’s Field.  Officers have been searching the surrounding area, including a special marine unit in the river Stour, which runs through Chartham.

Residents said the sisters “kept themselves to themselves” and they did not know much about them apart from that they had other siblings living in the village.  One neighbour, Catherine Aldous, said she sometimes heard them arguing.  She said: “You sometimes heard them bickering, but it was all just family stuff really.  “We saw them occasionally but only ever to say ‘hi’ to, we didn’t really know them too well.

“They seemed nice enough though, quite subtle characters.  “It was very shocking to hear what’s happened. It’s not something you’d expect.”  Ms Aldous, 18, said she knew the family had suffered since Rachel Barton’s death last year.  She added: “I know it was a very hard time for them, but they didn’t really talk to their neighbours about it.”

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