THE woman being quizzed by cops after claiming to have killed and buried her father in the garden is suffering from stomach cancer, her ex-husband has revealed.
A 63-year-old woman, named locally as Barbara Coombes, walked into a police station and told cops she had buried her dad in her garden a "number of years ago" on Sunday, with forensics since finding human remains in the gardens of the Stockport, Manchester home.
Police have now launched a murder investigation into the disappearance of Kenneth Coombes, who neighbours said they had last seen more than a decade ago.
Speaking to the Mail Online, Bill Coombes said: "Ken was a domineering man, a real control freak. He liked to humiliate people and make them feel small and that included Barbara and my daughter Islay."
He said that Barbara had moved back in with her father with their daughter, now 29, when the couple had split more than 20 years ago, and he had not seen her for two years.
He said Barbara's mother, Mary, had also died of cancer when she was just a little girl.
It comes after former neighbour Terry Sever, 70, told the Sun Online that Kenneth, who would now be 90, was "a bit strange".
He said: "I can remember talking to him about the school pumps that were on overnight, that was the last time I saw him.
"For me, he was there, and then he wasn't."
Terry, who last year moved from the street that is now cordoned off by cops, said he would speak to Barbara, but she would not speak about her father, a former bombardier in the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
He said: "She did tell me that he was very strict. If he wanted to watch anything on TV, they would have to sit in the kitchen."
Residents described Kenneth as a "tall, thin man", with childhood pals recalling how they would play in the garden of the the semi-detached house in Reddish where the human remains were found.
Kelly Forster, 29, revealed she used to play in Barbara Coombes' garden in Stockport, Manchester, telling the Sun Online: "We weren't allowed inside the house.
"We would always play in the garden. It's so weird and scary thinking about it now."
Kelly said she had only briefly spoken to Islay's mum, who she would always call Mrs Coombes.
Kelly, who moved away from the area about 10 years ago, added: "Her (Islay) and her mum were really close.
"Islay was so quiet, she would walk around on her tippy toes, she literally did."
The young woman said she was now worried about her childhood friend after the shock alleged confession, saying: "I always knew Mrs Coombes as quiet. She was really reserved."
Police are now door-knocking locals as to whether they know a Kenneth Coombes as they continue their forensic investigations, believed to be concentrating on the years 2004 and 2005.
A questionnaire handout being circulated by police suggests that Kenneth Coombes was in his late 80s in 2005.
Kelly said she had never seen a man in the house, adding: "My mum remembers him really vaguely.
"He used to walk around with a bag like Roy Cropper (of Coronation Street)."
A former pupil who went to school with Islay also revealed the young girl had denied her granddad was dead to school friends in 2006 when she was aged about 17.
Now 30-years-old, the friend said: "Islay was always very quiet and didn't really have any friends.
"But it was strange when someone had heard her granddad had died and asked her about it. She quickly said that he was still alive."
He added: "(Barbara) always had the same glasses, haircut and coat and never changed with the trend at the time.
"She would talk to people but just nothing more than pleasantries.
"It was same with the grandfather. I'd see him walking around and he seemed quite frail to me.
"The whole family were really standoffish. I remember there was a street party in Matlock Road for VE day about 20 years ago and everyone was there apart from them."
The woman was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.
Relatives of the man have now been informed.
Barbara’s daughter Islay, 29, was yesterday too upset to comment.
Neighbours have also spoken out of their shock at the discovery of human remains at the £127,000 home on Matlock Road, as forensic officers descended on the scene.
Shocked neighbour Ann Millar, 73, said: “She is a lovely woman who has lived in that house for years with her dad and daughter.
“She never gave any impression she had a dark past and I can’t believe she would be capable of something like this.”
The identity of the body has not yet been confirmed.
Evidence tents were erected at the back of the house and it is understood 18 bins were delivered to the property at the request of officers.
Another neighbour described the arrested woman as a "very quiet and reserved person", saying: "I would see her everyday, walking her dog.
"I cannot believe it. She is such a lovely person. I have known her for many, many years.
"She lived with her mum and dad and her mum died many, many years ago. I just assumed her dad died many years ago.
"She has a daughter but I have not seen her for a long time. She has been living there on her own for some time and has a little dog.
"I used to chat to her as I was walking down the road. I just cannot believe what I am hearing. She is a very quiet and reserved person."
A local shopkeeper added: "She comes in every day with a little puppy which she seemed to take great care of.
"She is always polite and said hello but we never said anything more than that, she seemed very quiet.
"I only knew her face not her name. She had grey hair and it was a bit messy. Her appearance was quite scruffy and she is maybe a bit of a recluse."
A post-mortem is expected to take place today.
Detective Inspector Dan Clegg from GMP’s Major Incident Team, said: "We will continue our work at the scene through the night and hope in the coming days we can piece together the exact circumstances surrounding the man's death."
In a statement, GMP previously said: “On Sunday 7 January 2018, a woman presented herself at Cheadle Heath Police Station and disclosed that she had killed a man a number of years ago and buried his body in a garden on Matlock Road, Reddish.
"Officers immediately launched an investigation and today, Tuesday 9 January, a scene has been established in the garden.
"At this time, a body has not been found but enquiries are ongoing and the man’s family, who are being supported by specially trained officers, have been informed.
"A 63-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody for questioning."
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting reference number 1273 of 07/01/18 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
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