THE children of murdered Bournemouth woman Heather Barnett discovered their mother's body when they returned home from school, police said.

A neighbour told the Daily Echo how the distraught 11-year-old girl and her 14-year-old brother were seen frantically using a mobile phone to call police from the front garden of their home in Capstone Road, Charminster, shortly before 4pm on Tuesday.

They had arrived home to discover their mother, 48-year-old dressmaker Ms Barnett, lying dead in a pool of blood. The woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "They were really upset and shouting 'Mummy's dead, she has been cut up'.

"Then the police arrived and we took the children back to our house," the woman added.

The children are now being cared for by police.

In the aftermath of the shocking murder, the third killing since May, residents in Charminster have spoken of their fear that the area is no longer safe.

Detectives investigating the incident yesterday appealed for help from the the public in catching the murderer.

Det Supt Phil James of Dorset Police said officers were called to the house shortly after 4pm after receiving reports that a woman's body had been found.

"We understand that the two children found their mother dead in the house and ran into the road where a neighbour assisted them and called the police," he said.

"It must have been extremely traumatic, the children are both in shock and finding it very difficult to come to terms with what they have seen."

Ms Barnett lived in a ground floor flat with her children. Her former mother-in-law and grandmother live in the flat above.

Police believe the attack happened sometime between 8am and 4pm.

Det Supt James said: "We are looking for someone who left the scene covered in blood or someone who was seen destroying bloodstained clothes or washing bloodstained clothes."

Yesterday, a number of roads in Charminster were cordoned off by police while forensic experts examined the area and searched for a weapon or bloodstained clothing.

A post-mortem examinationwas carried out by a Home Office pathologist yesterday afternoon.

A man has been arrested and is currently assisting police with their enquiries.

Any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to contact the murder incident room on 01202 222555 or the confidential Crimestoppers line on 0800 555111.