A girl of three has been found murdered at a house in Birmingham.
Police made the grim discovery after being called to the terraced property in Milverton Road, Erdington, on Saturday evening.
West Midlands Police said a pathologist had not yet been able to confirm how the youngster died.
A woman in her 20s, believed to be the girl’s mother, was arrested on suspicion of murder and was last night being quizzed by detectives who had been granted further time to hold her.
It is understood police found a toxic substance in the house and tests were underway to see if it was connected to the girl’s death.
Residents reported seeing firefighters in protective gear at the property, possibly to make it safe for forensic experts to search the scene for evidence.
It is thought the child, who has not been named, died a short time before being discovered on Saturday when the alarm was raised.
Shocked neighbours said the body of the child was brought out of the house on Sunday evening, some 24 hours after being discovered.
“You could tell it was a child and it’s ever so sad,” said one neighbour, who asked not to be named.
Another said hardened police officers emerging from the house looked “shocked”.
A police forensics tent, erected after the discovery was made at 5.30pm, remained outside the house on the tree-lined Milverton Road on Monday while a single officer stood guard. A solitary bunch of flowers was laid outside the house with the simple message: “Rest in peace little angel.”
A Home Office pathologist spent most of Monday conducting a detailed post-mortem examination to determine a cause of death, however the results proved “unascertained” pending further toxicology and forensic tests.
Helen Gilfoyle, a 42-year-old teacher who lives a few doors away, said: “She was a lovely happy little girl with braids in her hair. Every now and again she would see my cat in the front garden and chase after him, but always in a very playful way. I used to see them going up the road most days and they seemed like a normal mother and daughter.
“We’re very sad to hear something terrible has happened to such a lovely little thing. There were firemen in blue protective suits going in and out for about two days.”
Locals said they believed the pair lived alone but often had visits from a man in a sports car.
David Crookes, 59, an unemployed vehicle upholsterer, said: “I don’t know what happened but even the police who were coming out of the house looked shocked.
“I used to see the girl and her mum coming past quite often. The little girl always seemed quite happy. As far as I know it was just the two of them there but there was a bloke who would visit every now and again in a black soft-top Audi.”
Det Chief Insp Tim Bacon from the Major Investigation Unit, is leading the inquiry. A police spokesman said: “Police sealed off a house in Milverton Road, Erdington after the body of a three year old girl was found inside.
“This is being treated as a murder inquiry. A woman in her 20s has been arrested in connection with the death and is currently helping police with their inquiries.”
A force spokesman added that specially trained officers from West Midlands Fire Service were at the scene as a precaution to check substances found inside the property.