Patricia Goodband: Company director and second man held on suspicion of murdering elderly businesswoman
- Wealthy Patricia Goodband, 76, has not been seen since December 17
- Police sources say detectives 'had information' that she'd been murdered
- Her company secretary Christopher Symons has been held by police
- A second murder suspect, Robert Taft, is a council head groundsman
- Police search teams are scouring Miss Goodband's £500k home and grounds
By Damien Gayle
PUBLISHED: 12:19 EST, 15 January 2013 | UPDATED: 12:29 EST, 15 January 2013
Missing: Patricia Goodband, the elderly businesswoman whose disappearance has led to the arrest of two men on suspicion of murder
Police searching for a missing elderly businesswoman have arrested a director of her company and another man on suspicion of her murder.
The pair were in custody as forensic experts today scoured the five-acre grounds at the Buckinghamshire home of wealthy 76-year-old Patricia Goodband in a bid to find her body.
Miss Goodband, owner of a building supplies company, has not been seen since mid-December.
Police sources said detectives 'had information' suggesting she was murdered and her body disposed of so it would not be easily found.
Today police were holding the divorcee's co-director Christopher Symons, aged 63, and council head groundsman Robert Taft, 59.
As interview continued, a police search team more than 20 strong, backed by tracker dogs and a helicopter, were drafted in to search Miss Goodband's £500,000 gated home in the tiny rural village of Woodman, near Aylesbury.
Their searches, using metal and wooden prodders and a small digger, were centred on the overgrown grounds of the OAP's Akeman House, where her company, Rakechoice Ltd., was also based.
It is understood that Miss Goodband - who uses the name Patricia Roberts in her business dealings - was chairman of the firm and murder suspect Symons was the company secretary and a co-director.
Scenes of crime officers were spotted going into two forensic tents located at the back of Ms Goodband's property, while other officers, including a dog handlers with sniffer dogs, conducted a fingertip search of the paddock area.
Neighbours of Miss Goodband said she was well-liked in the area and that her sudden disappearance seemed out of character.
She has not been seen since December 17, although her disappearance was not reported until January 9.
Akeman House: Teams of police forensic investigators at Miss Goodband's detached him in the tiny rural village of Woodman, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, where searches are taking place
Grim search: Miss Goodband, owner of a building supplies company, has not been seen since mid-December. Police sources said detectives 'had information' suggesting she was murdered and her body disposed of
Scouring: Their searches, using metal and wooden prodders and a small digger, were centred on the overgrown grounds of the OAP's Akeman House, where her company, Rakechoice Ltd., was also based
A 53-year-old man who lives a few doors from the property and who did not want to be named, said: 'Pat was a lovely lady. She used to bring us mince pies every Christmas. You couldn't wish for a better neighbour.'
A 50-year-old woman who also did not want to be named said: 'She was a very traditional person, very homely. She wasn't the travelling type and she absolutely adored gardening.
'She was a very small lady not taller than 5ft 2ins with sparkly blue eyes.
'She used to be married many years ago and has lived in this property for 27 to 30 years, certainly since we've been here.
She added: 'I went home to the States with my husband on Christmas Eve and got back on new Year's Day. I thought it was strange that I hadn't seen Pat's bedroom light on at the front of the house as she used to go to bed very early and was a woman of routine.'
The grounds: Forensic officers pitch tents to secure the scene as they search Miss Goodband's garden
Overgrown: Search teams drafted in dogs, a helicopter and a mechanical digger to assist with the search
Taft is head gardener at Aylesbury Town Council. His wife Carol was listed at Companies' House in 1999 as a director of a Taft Contractors Ltd and Robert Taft Ltd., in 1993. Both companies have since been dissolved.
Murder squad detectives arrested Taft, their second suspect, who is head gardener at Aylesbury Town Council, at his home in Westcott, near Aylesbury, on Sunday, and carried out a detailed search of the property.
The bungalow where he lives with his wife, Carol, is just half a mile from Ms Goodband's house.
Company secretary: The home of Christopher Symons, 63, one of the two men arrested on suspicion of murder
'The police have been in there all hours ': The home of second suspect Robert Taft in Woodham, near Aylesbury
One neighbour, a man in his 40s who did not want to be named, said: 'I'm shocked. It's an awful thing to have happened.
'The police have been in there all hours since Sunday. They've been coming an going carrying things in and out. This is a very quiet place, you wouldn't expect it around here.'
Another neighbour said a dark-coloured Range Rover which belonged to Taft was driven away by police on Monday afternoon. 'They've been our neighbours for the last four years and we get on well with them,' he said.
'He's a lovely, quiet man. We've never really heard a peep from him.'
Raid: A detective leaves Taft's home carrying a brown paper bag stuffed with potential evidence
neighbour described the operation in which police officers swooped on
Taft's home. 'The police have been here since Sunday,' he said. 'At
first a car was parked at the end of the road.
'It must have been watching the house or something. Then there were quite a few cars and vans and officers going in and out.
'He's a lovely, quiet man': Robert Taft, who was arrested in a police raid on his home witnessed by his neighbours on Sunday night
'There's been a police car parked outside the door all night. We keep letting the poor chaps in to use the toilet. This is all very shocking and a complete surprise.
'I feel for Carol. She's not in the best of health so this must be hellish for her.'
A frail and gaunt Carol Taft, who uses a walking stick to get around, was seen arriving at the home of her 35-year-old son, John, in nearby Long Crendon.
Family members refused to comment.
Detectives from Thames Valley Police, who are investigating Miss Goodband's disappearance and searching for her body, were tight-lipped today.
Symons is understood to be the father of a Thames Valley Police detective, based at Reading Police Station.
A spokesman for Thames Valley Police appealed for anyone who may have seen Ms Goodband, who they described as being 5ft 5ins tall, with short brown hair, to contact them.
Detective Superintendent Chris Ward said: 'We are still in the very early stages of our investigation and we have a team of officers trying to piece together Patricia's whereabouts after Monday 17 December, which is when we now believe Patricia was last seen.
'Following our initial inquiries we have arrested two men, aged 63 and 59, on suspicion of murder, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and of concealing a body.
'They are currently in custody where they are being questioned about Patricia's disappearance.
'However, I would like to stress that although two people have been arrested, we are continuing to treat this as a missing person inquiry.
'I am urging anyone who has seen or heard from Patricia since Monday 17 December, or who has any information about her, to come forward as soon as possible.'
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