Police investigating the murder of a clergyman at his vicarage are exploring links with the killing of retired Worcestershire teacher Betty Yates.

Mrs Yates, 77, was found stabbed to death at the foot of the stairs at her home in Bewdley on January 4.

Now West Mercia Police are working with officers investigating the fatal stabbing of Reverend John Suddards, 59, in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, last Tuesday.

Stephen Farrow, 47, was arrested in Folkestone, Kent, in the early hours of Sunday in connection with the murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Jamieson, of West Mercia Police, said: “We have been particularly interested in the work by Avon and Somerset Police in investigating the murder of Reverend John Suddards.

‘‘We have been working together with them to examine similarities between that incident and the murder of Betty Yates.

“We will continue our unrelenting efforts to bring the offender responsible for this dreadful crime to justice.”

Mrs Yates had worked at schools in Birmingham, Walsall and Kidderminster before retiring to her family home, on the banks of the River Severn.

A man was arrested on February 2 and questioned by police investigating her death but he was later released on bail.

West Mercia Police later issued descriptions of two men seen close to the OAP’s home on the day they believe she died.

Mr Suddards was found stabbed to death at his home in Castle Street on Tuesday morning.

The alarm was raised by workmen who arrived at the vicarage next to St Mary’s Church to find it locked.

The news of his death sent shockwaves through the clergy and the close-knit community, which lies 11 miles north of Bristol.

Police launched a nationwide appeal for Farrow, whom they said was known to travel the country extensively, mainly by bus.

He was arrested by Kent Police at around 4.20am on Sunday by officers acting on a tip-off from the public.