A “timid and shy” toddler who police believe may have been murdered after she was found in a pond near her home has been named locally.
Two-year-old Annabel Mackey was reported missing from her home in the small village of Kingsley, Hampshire, shortly after 5pm on Sunday before she was found ten minutes later in an angling pond.
Police initially said she was in a serious condition, but on Monday night said she had died and that a woman in her 40s had been arrested on suspicion of murder. Officers said that the woman was initially arrested on suspicion of attempted murder before Annabel died.
Police continued to quiz the woman over the death on Tuesday as forensics examined nearby woodland.
Witnesses told how they heard an adult shouting “help me, help me” at the pond and then saw a casualty being put into an ambulance covered in blankets.
On Tuesday, local residents paid tribute to the “beautiful” and “gorgeous” toddler, who lived in a semi-detached home with her parents Peter, 39 and Alice, 40 where two police officers stood guard.
Forensic teams scoured the half-million-pound house they bought in March 2020, which is a short drive from Mrs Mackey’s parents.
A female friend living close to the family home said: “We’re really upset. Annabel was very very quiet.
“Whenever we saw her in the village she didn’t really speak, she gave us little smiles. She was a sweet little girl. She was very, very quiet and shy. Timid I would say.”
Neighbours of the couple, who married in 2015, said they are “shocked to the core” after Annabel’s death at the beauty spot in the quiet village, which is home to 600 people.
A married father-of-one who lives on the same road as Annabel enjoyed looking at their Halloween decorations and walking with her mother, a teacher who studied at Oxford Brookes University and London’s University of Roehampton.
“Alice would always be holding her hand and quite often they’d walk up the Common because it’s a beautiful place to walk,” he said.
He added that he was devastated at the death of Annabel, who had visited at Halloween.
“A two-year-old has lost her life, it’s absolutely terrible,” he said. “We’ve met her, we always said hello, she used to say hi.
“At Halloween, we get a lot of decorations around the house for our little one and Annabel used to come in and look at the decorations. She was gorgeous, she was a beautiful little girl.”
“The first we knew of it was when the police car pulled up,” the neighbour said. “Within 20 minutes of the first car pulling up, this place was flooded with vans and police.
This place was jammed. The whole place was cordoned off and then basically we were asked by CID if we had any footage on our camera.”
“The pond is nearly half a mile away from here”, he added. “It’s a shocker. We moved here simply because it’s idyllic, we knew it was safe.
“This has shocked us to the core. We’ve made sure our daughter is not aware. When Annabel popped round, our daughter would pop out and speak to her.”
A vigil was held on Tuesday night and floral tributes were left throughout the day by locals at the village’s pond including one which read: “RIP little one, gone well too soon, taken to heaven now, sleep tight little one.”
The area is popular for fishing and dog walkers, with many parents and children also walking around the area.
Hampshire Police is continuing to appeal for information over Annabel’s death and has urged witnesses to come forward.
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