First picture of woman found ‘chopped in half’ and torso dumped in suitcases in Forest of Dean
A woman whose charred and dismembered body was found in suitcases dumped in a forest was today named as 28-year-old Phoenix Netts.
It is understood the young woman was killed at a women’s refuge in Birmingham where she had been living for a number of months.
The suspect, 27-year-old Gareeca Gordon, who was charged with her murder last week, also lived at the seven-bed HMO in the Lozells area of the city, neighbours say.
Police fear the victim had been ‘sawed in half’ before being burned.
Phoenix Netts, 28, was murdered her dismembered body was found in some suitcases in the Forest of Dean. Her body had also been burned
Police searched the area in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, after discovering a man and a woman carrying suitcases containing body parts
Police, pictured in woodland next to Stowfield Quarry in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, searched the area for several days looking for evidence
Handyman Mahesh Sorithaya, 38, has been charged with assisting an offender.
Father of two Mahesh Sorathiya, 38, from Wolverhampton was charged with assisting an offender. He was today granted bail
It is understood that Ms Netts last-known whereabouts date back to mid-April. Her phone, which had gone unanswered, was said to have disconnected last Tuesday.
Her family today said they were ‘devastated’ by the death.
They said in a statement released by West Midlands Police: ‘As a family we are devastated with what has happened to Phoenix.
‘We ask most humbly that our family’s privacy is respected whilst we grieve and come to terms with the loss of Phoenix in such tragic circumstances.
‘Whilst we understand this is a news story, we hope everyone can understand why we need to be left alone at this very difficult time.’We have family and good friends supporting us and our thanks go out to all of them.
‘We would also like to thank all the police officers involved in the investigation for their hard work and sensitivity.’
Jamaican national Gordon, from Birmingham, was remanded in custody charged with murder on or before May 12, 2020.
Father of two Mahesh Sorathiya, 38, from Wolverhampton was charged with assisting an offender. He was today granted bail.
The council-licensed property – said by neighbours to be occupied by four vulnerable women – is understood to be where Ms Netts was killed and dismembered.
Forensics teams continued to analyse the scene for a sixth day, concentrating on a bedroom on the first floor of the property where Ms Netts lived.
The crime scene investigators were also seen checking wheelie-bins, a bicycle and the back garden of the house.
It has been reported that the victim’s body was ‘sawed in half’ and found charred.
Jamaican national Gareeca Conita Gordon, 27, was remanded on Saturday over the murder.
She had previously been living in north London and went under an assumed name, a source said.
A neighbour said five women had been living at the property – but only four in recent weeks.
A map, pictured, shows where Sorathiya and Gordon were arrested by police following the grim discovery last week
He said: ‘There was a white British woman living in the front bedroom on the first floor but I haven’t seen her in weeks.
‘Definitely not in the last month.
‘I saw Gareeca – she would keep her bike locked up outside the house. She was a mixed race Caribbean woman. She wasn’t fat, she wore glasses – just normal sized. She lived on the first floor as well.
‘We didn’t have a clue about what had gone on until the forensics and police turned up on the 13th.
‘They’ve been bringing out bags and bags of evidence since.
‘The strange thing is the walls are paper thin.
‘If there was a fight, I’m just I would have heard it.
‘That’s what is baffling me.’
Forensic tents, pictured. The quarry is on Staunton Road and the closed section also contains a fishery, a former sawmill which now contains storage units, several houses and a campsite
Police launched a major operation after discovering the suitcases containing body parts
Another neighbour added: ‘There’s a lot of women who come and go from that house. It’s a women’s refuge – so they are all running from something.
‘There are no men allowed. You hardly ever see men going in there.
‘I’ve been told that the victim lived in the house – I thought it was the girl who lived on the ground floor because I hadn’t seen her for a while.
‘Thankfully, I saw her the other day.
‘One of the middle bedrooms is where the police have been concentrating. There has been a lot of activity in there.
‘The forensics were taking photos outside of the wheelie bins and going in and out of the alley that leads to the back garden.
‘There are seven bedrooms but only four were occupied. The remaining women have been moved out.’
Police also searched a women’s refuge in Birmingham where they believe Ms Netts was murdered
Police and forensic teams were searched Gordon’s house in Birmingham looking for clues
Officers also searched Sorathiya’s home in Wolverhampton looking for evidence
It is believed Ms Netts was murdered inside the women’s refuge in Birmingham last week
Ms Netts was reportedly dismembered with a circular saw before being packed into cases.
Police detained two people in Coleford, Gloucestershire – 75 miles from Birmingham – last Tuesday night after they were seen acting erratically.
One was found near Stowford Quarry and the other was seen further along the road.
Sorathiya was described as a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ handyman by friends who stored tools in two transit vans usually seen outside his five-bed home in Wolverhampton, West Midlands.
A white Range Rover – bought as a Valentine’s present to his wife, Redha – was also not longer at the home. A Mercedes with a personalised registration was packed in the drive.
Sorathiya, who had been living in Southall, Middlesex, until around three years ago, also lived at the home with his elderly mother and teenage children.
Neighbours said they recently had relationship difficulties.
Police closed roads in near the Forest of Dean while they continued their searches
Other groups of officers searched the house in Birmingham and canvassed neighbours
Neighbour Wahidur Rahman, 50, said he was shocked by Ms Netts’ death.
He said: ‘Phoenix was a really nice young girl. She was lovely.
‘We didn’t know her well – all the women in the refuge kept themselves to themselves. They were all vulnerable in a way.
‘But she would always say hello and ask “how are you?”.
‘It’s so shocking that she’s been killed and then cut up.
‘I thought something might have happened to her because I hadn’t seen her in a while.
‘The forensics have been in her bedroom for a few days now and today they blacked out the windows.
‘They’ve been taking away bags of belongings.
‘I’m just in shock, really. She was a pretty young girl.
‘I’m just devastated for her family.’