Veil of sadness cloaks Capel St Mary

PUBLISHED: 15:55 17 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:02 03 March 2010

THE village of Capel St Mary has undoubtedly lost all sense of Christmas cheer today.

In its place just one short week before a time of celebration, this close-knit community is reeling from a bitter tragedy.

THE village of Capel St Mary has undoubtedly lost all sense of Christmas cheer today.

In its place just one short week before a time of celebration, this close-knit community is reeling from a bitter tragedy.

Today it has awoken in a state of stunned confusion. It has awoken, horrified, to reflect on the death of an innocent 79-year-old pensioner – murdered in her own home.

It is this cruel and gruesome reality which has all but lost a sense of festivity for the residents of Capel today.

It is this which rocked Joan Albert's quiet cul-de-sac to the core. This which has marred a period of peace and of love.

Just a few short days ago, the homes in this unassuming village had been preparing excitedly for the Christmas season.

Each of their respectful homes had been filled with the lights, the cards, and the colourful displays that best depict this seasonal period of joy.

And this morning, as neighbours gradually departed from their homes at the start of another week, those lights still shining from the occasional window had surely lost their appeal.

Throughout the day, neighbours, villagers and even school children have done little but talk of the emerging horror that took place in this unlikely community at the weekend.

With pained anxiety, friends talked about the sense of shock, and now of vulnerability, for the many elderly people of the village. They told openly of an elderly woman who was well recognised in Capel St Mary. They spoke of a mild mannered lady who was often seen walking her dog along the main village street, a woman who lost her life so cruelly.

This unforeseen tragedy could seemingly not have come at a worse time in the calendar, nor could it have happened in a less likely place.

So quiet and so well liked, Capel St Mary has long been viewed as one of Suffolk's many charming and idyllic villages.

It is a place in which families were perceivably being raised in safety, a place on the edge of Constable country where commuters had come to enjoy our county's peace, a place of great community spirit. It is a place where, today, tiny children play unassuming in a village day care centre where they are growing up surrounded by Suffolk beauty.

And where now, one worries for their very safety in the light of such awful events.

"It certainly makes us more worried about safety. Not only for the youngsters, but for all age groups," said Linda Evans, of the Capel Dawn to Dusk Educare Centre. "There are lots of elderly people in this village and I know that many of them live on their own and are now particularly nervous at this time."

Poignantly, the youngsters from Capel Centre spent the morning at a festive village church service today.

"We watched the Christmas nativity play together with a lot of the village's elderly residents. Somehow it felt like a very fitting way of uniting us all at this time," added Linda.

This, put simply, was a place which would never have perceived such an horrendous act of fatal violence.

And so today Capel is witnessing a much-changed picture of the one it had come to know.

At the end of Mrs Albert's leafy cul-de-sac, a police sign still indirectly alerts the community to the sinister crime which happened here.

Police continue to come and go from an area devastated by the events of the previous hours, forensic officers comb a home which has now become a crime statistic of our much loved county.

Such is the mood in Capel St Mary today, that an entire community is apparently in mourning.

Christmas may have been just one short week away from reality but now it is long since forgotten.

This, sadly, is not a time for celebration.

Here in an unassuming corner of Suffolk, it is a time of undisputed mourning.

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