Michele Faiers, 66, was found dead at her home in Italy – and police say her partner Michael Whitbread is the prime suspect (Picture: Facebook)
Michele Faiers was discovered by her friend lying in a pool of blood in the first-floor bedroom of her rural house in a village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy, on Wednesday morning.
The 66-year-old had been dead for at least three days, according to Colonel Alceo Greco, of the carabinieri police force.
Her partner Michael Whitbread, 74, is the prime suspect and a national manhunt was launched after his wife’s body was found but Col Greco said he may have already fled the country.
Police were called to the scene after a friend of Ms Faiers went to check on her because she had not been in touch for three days and was becoming increasingly concerned.
Neighbours said they could hear the heartbroken friend screaming when she made the grim discovery and the house has since been sealed off by officers for forensic investigations.
‘I just can’t believe it,’ a local plumber who was employed by the couple told MailOnline. ‘They seemed such a perfect couple.’
Ms Faiers was found dead in her bedroom and police say Mr Whitbread is missing
The plumber said he lives around 25 miles away from Ms Faiers and Mr Whitbread’s house and that he’d last seen them around a year ago when he came to check their boiler.
He added: ‘They had bought some abandoned properties in front of their house and were going to do them up. I just can’t believe it. I’m shocked.’
Other local residents described the couple, who had been living in the house near Palombaro for four years, as ‘very private’.
One said: ‘They kept themselves to themselves mostly but they would be seen every now and then walking their three dogs.’
The couple had been living in their house in Italy for the past four years
Just last week, Ms Faiers shared her last post on Instagram of the stunning sunset view from her house with the caption: ‘Another beautiful evening.’
The mother-of-two’s partner Mr Whitbread, a retired management consultant, was among the people who liked the photos.
He allegedly left the scene in the couple’s white Jeep Compass before police could question him, officers say.
Mr Whitbread is also understood to be an experienced scuba diver and the couple had enjoyed several diving holidays together.
Michael Whitbread is said to have left the house in the couple’s white Jeep Compass and police fear he could have fled the country
Following the incident, local prosecutor Mirvana Di Serio was seen at the house where the keys were reportedly still in the front door when police arrived.
Medical examiners are also running forensic tests to determine how long the victim was deceased before she was found.
Earlier this month, a man who murdered his wife and set fire to their London home was jailed for 29 years.
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Her partner has been missing since her body was found.