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Woman appears at Essex court accused of murdering her parents

A woman has appeared in court accused of murdering her parents whose remains are believed to have been found at her house in Essex, police have said.

Virginia McCullough, 35, appeared by prison video link at Basildon crown court charged with the murders of John and Lois McCullough, who were in their 70s.

The defendant, of Pump Hill in Chelmsford, Essex, is accused of killing the pair in Chelmsford between 21 August 2018 and 15 September 2023. She was not asked to enter pleas to the two murder charges during the brief court hearing on Tuesday.

The defendant, who wore a grey prison-issue tracksuit and had a blond bob haircut, spoke only to confirm her identity from a booth at HMP Peterborough.

The judge, Samantha Leigh, remanded McCullough into custody until a plea hearing on 1 December, with a provisional trial date set from 13 May at Chelmsford crown court with a time estimate of two weeks. No application for bail was made.

On Monday, Essex police said they had received reports of concern for the wellbeing of two people aged in their 70s on 13 September. The force said it subsequently began an investigation and that detectives later found human remains at a property in Pump Hill, Chelmsford.

DS Rob Kirby of the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate said on Monday that the investigation was “incredibly complex” and officers and staff would continue their work over the coming days, including at addresses in Pump Hill.

“I would continue to urge against speculation as these inquiries continue,” he added. “A family is grieving the loss of two relatives and officers are supporting them.”

The family of John and Lois McCullough, who are being supported by specialist officers, said in a statement released through police: “We are deeply shocked by their deaths and ask for privacy at this difficult time.”

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