A British man wanted in connection with the murder of his partner set off for England driving through Switzerland and France just hours after she died.

Michael Whitbread, 74, was officially named by Italian prosecutors after he was held by police in the UK following the discovery of Michele Faiers body.

The arrest warrant seen exclusively by MailOnline reveals how a local coroner confirmed she had been stabbed seven times in the back.

The mum of three was found on Wednesday dressed in just her underwear with a sheet over her body by the bed of the house she shared with retired IT consultant Whitbread.

Shocked friend Petrina Keay alerted police after making the grim discovery at the £90,000 house Michele and Michael had moved to in Verratti near Chieti on 2020.

The warrant highlighted how he had left the house on Sunday, crossed the Swiss border and then driven through France and onto England where he was held on Wednesday at Shepshed near Loughborough.

Michele Faiers (pictured with her partner Michael Whitbread) was found fatally stabbed in her idyllic Italian home on Wednesday

Michele Faiers (pictured with her partner Michael Whitbread) was found fatally stabbed in her idyllic Italian home on Wednesday

A 74-year-old man who has been arrested over the murder of a British grandmother in Italy was found by police in a UK home (pictured) owned by his daughter

A 74-year-old man who has been arrested over the murder of a British grandmother in Italy was found by police in a UK home (pictured) owned by his daughter

Pictures show the house in a sleepy market town where the fugitive pensioner was arrested

 Pictures show the house in a sleepy market town where the fugitive pensioner was arrested

Detectives were at a ' crime scene' in a leafy residential street in Shepshed, Leicestershire

Detectives were at a ‘ crime scene’ in a leafy residential street in Shepshed, Leicestershire

A white Jeep Compass, which the suspect is believed to have travelled across the border and travelled to the East Midlands in, has been has removed from the property, according to residents

A white Jeep Compass, which the suspect is believed to have travelled across the border and travelled to the East Midlands in, has been has removed from the property, according to residents

A 74-year-old man, who is a British national, was arrested by police officers in Shepshed, a town in Leicestershire, in connection with the murder of Michele Faiers (pictured) in Italy

A 74-year-old man, who is a British national, was arrested by police officers in Shepshed, a town in Leicestershire, in connection with the murder of Michele Faiers (pictured) in Italy

On Friday Whitbread was still in custody in a police station in Leicestershire and he was expected to appear before magistrates later or on Saturday for an initial extradition hearing.
He was found by police in a UK home owned by his daughter. 
Michele, 66, was discovered lying in a pool of blood in her first-floor bedroom by her friend inside her rural home in Veratti village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy, on Wednesday morning. 
Pictures show the house in a sleepy market town where the pensioner was arrested, while detectives were at a ‘crime scene’ in a leafy residential street in Shepshed, Leicestershire.
A white Jeep Compass, which the suspect is believed to have crossed the border and travelled to the East Midlands in, has been removed from the property, according to residents.
Shocked locals in the quiet rural town – located between Loughborough and Ashby-de-la-Zouch – told how detectives and forensic experts had been on the street all day for ‘reasons no one has told us.’
One elderly woman, told MailOnline: ‘There’s been a big police presence here and no one has told us why. There’s been offers coming and going all day and teams of forensics.

‘It’s been rather alarming and for reasons no one has told us.’

The resident, who declined to be named, said there had been focus on the semi-detached property opposite her home, and said she had ‘found the whole situation distressing.’

She said she had ‘no idea’ who lived there, saying: ‘This is a very pleasant street to live in but people keep themselves to themselves and we like to have our privacy.’

Staff and locals at a nearby pub told how teams of police had been ‘staking out’ the area for hours late last night.

Bar attendant David, 22 (no surname) said: ‘There were 10-12 cop cars driving up and down at least 20 times in marked vehicles.

‘We had no idea what was going on but they were clearly staking out someone or something.’

David told how officers had come into the pub this morning asking for CCTV but because of a faulty system they could not help providing any footage.

He explained: ‘We asked what is was about, and they told us they were investigating the death of a dog which had recently been run over in the street.

‘It was all very odd, and whilst a dog had sadly been run over outside last week, it didn’t add up to the large police contingency in the early hours.:

He told that as he was walking to the car park to drive home he saw a white jeep being uploaded onto a recovery truck from a ‘house round the corner form the pub.’

Whilst a visible crime scene was not in place, with no cordon, one police car remained parked up opposite the targeted house.

Michele Faiers, 66, was found lying on her first-floor bedroom in a pool of blood by her friend inside her rural home in a village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy on Wednesday morning. Pictured: The home this morning with police tape surrounding it

Michele Faiers, 66, was found lying on her first-floor bedroom in a pool of blood by her friend inside her rural home in a village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy on Wednesday morning. Pictured: The home this morning with police tape surrounding it

She was found inside her rural home in Verratti village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy, on Wednesday morning

She was found inside her rural home in Verratti village near Casoli, a town in eastern Italy, on Wednesday morning

Colonel Alceo Greco, of Italy's carabinieri police force, said Ms Faiers had probably died on Saturday or Sunday and her partner Michael Whitbread (pictured), 74, is a prime suspect

Colonel Alceo Greco, of Italy’s carabinieri police force, said Ms Faiers had probably died on Saturday or Sunday and her partner Michael Whitbread (pictured), 74, is a prime suspect 

Local residents of the village near Casoli described the couple as 'very private'

 Local residents of the village near Casoli described the couple as ‘very private’

The mother-of-two was found on the floor next to her bed, dressed in her underwear and covered in a white sheet with just her feet poking out, an investigative source told MailOnline. 

Italian police were hunting Michele’s partner Michael Whitbread, 74, a retired IT consultant originally from Torquay, after he allegedly left the scene in the couple’s white Jeep Compass before police could question him.

Colonel Alceo Greco, of Italy’s carabinieri police force, said Mr Whitbread is a prime suspect in Michele’s murder and was feared to have fled Italy. Police described him as ‘intelligent, competent and able’.

Leicestershire police said today they had arrested a 74-year-old in connection with Michele’s murder last night and he remains in custody.

Detective Inspector David Greenhalgh, from EMSOU, said: ‘We are continuing to work with authorities both in the United Kingdom and Italy regarding this incident.

‘Ms Faiers’ family have asked for privacy at this time and I would ask that this is respected.’ 

Michele, a mother of two daughters, was found by friend Petrina Keay who had travelled from the nearby commune of Palombaro, where 100 British expats live, after they called her yesterday morning but received no response. 

Ms Keay had not heard from her for three days and had become increasingly concerned so decided to check up on her, police said.

Neighbours said they heard her screaming in horror at finding the 66-year-old in a pool of blood on the floor next to her bed and called the police who arrived at the home in the countryside.

Michele was stabbed seven times in the back, police confirmed to MailOnline, though conflicting reports gave differing accounts of how many times she was stabbed and precisely where. 

‘She was found on the floor in her bedroom next to the bed, dressed in underwear and covered in a white sheet,’ an investigative source said. 

‘There was no sign of a struggle and she was possibly stabbed in her sleep but we await the forensic examination to find out more.’ 

The house was still taped off in the countryside near the town of Casoli on Thursday

The house was still taped off in the countryside near the town of Casoli on Thursday 

Meanwhile at the scene the house was still taped off and a British registered campervan was parked alongside the property with another van which has Italian plates

Meanwhile at the scene the house was still taped off and a British registered campervan was parked alongside the property with another van which has Italian plates

Meanwhile at the scene the house was still taped off and a British registered campervan was parked alongside the property with another van which has Italian plates on Thursday

Meanwhile at the scene the house was still taped off and a British registered campervan was parked alongside the property with another van which has Italian plates on Thursday 

Michele was found by police in her first-floor bedroom and the keys to the house were reportedly still in the front door.

Police told MailOnline they had yet to find the murder weapon but were waiting for the autopsy to confirm what was used to stab Michele.

The couple had been living in the house in the countryside near the commune of Palombara, where 100 British expats live, for the past four years and were described by local residents as ‘very private’.

Neighbour Luana D’Angelo told MailOnline: ‘They were quite private and didn’t really interact with the community as they couldn’t speak much Italian but they would always smile and say hello.

‘They had three dogs and the last time I saw them a week ago they were in the garden in front of their house but there was nothing untoward.

‘They always seemed so happy together.’

Medical examiners are running forensic tests to investigate how long Michele was deceased before she was discovered by her heartbroken friend. It is believed she died on Saturday. 

The tragedy comes just months after Michele returned home to celebrate her daughter’s wedding.

Before moving to Italy Michele and Michael ran Divers Down scuba school in Torquay, Devon. At the smart terraced home the couple shared in the town, neighbours spoke of their shock at the news.

One – who has lived on the same street for 20 years – said: ‘She was here for her daughter’s wedding in September. I didn’t see Michael with her. She was obviously so happy at the wedding, this has just come as a complete shock.

‘It must be awful for the daughter, she’s only just got married and is having to deal with something like this.

Ms Faiers and Mr Whitbread had been living in the house in the countryside near Palombara for the past four years

Ms Faiers and Mr Whitbread had been living in the house in the countryside near Palombara for the past four years 

Pictures show the couple enjoying a winter break, skiing in nearby mountains and in one snap she is seen with her daughter Harriet

Pictures show the couple enjoying a winter break, skiing in nearby mountains and in one snap she is seen with her daughter Harriet

‘They seemed such a lovely couple.’

‘I wouldn’t have thought he had that in him. I just can’t believe it. Michael was the nicest guy you could ever meet.

‘She was just a lovely person, they moved out to Italy to retire. I don’t know why they ended up in Italy but they both loved diving. He worked as an instructor and they used to own the dive school at Babbacombe before selling up.’

Petrina Keay, who discovered Michele’s lifeless body at the couple’s Italian home, is being comforted by friends.

One expat pal Phil Adams said: ‘She is absolutely devastated. Can you imagine ? She went in there and saw everything.

‘All we know is that she hadn’t heard from Michele for a few days and went up the house to check on her.

‘When she got there the keys were in the front door because that’s very common here and she went in and found the scene.

‘She called for help and now Michael has disappeared in their car and everyone is just completely devastated by what’s happened.

‘Petrina went in and found the body and then her screams alerted neighbours and the police were called.

‘They weren’t married but there was talk of marriage.’

Officials said that around ‘fifty to sixty’ British families live in area with many of them pensioners. 

Sources in Italy said Michele’s family were expected to travel there in the next day or so to formally identify the body and an autopsy will be carried out at the local hospital in nearby Chieti.

Michele made her last post on her Instagram page on October 25, when three pictures of a spectacular sunset taken from the terrace of her house were uploaded.

She captioned it ‘another beautiful sunset’ and among the people who liked it was her partner Mr Whitbread.

Other pictures show the couple enjoying a winter break, skiing in nearby mountains and in one snap she is seen with her daughter Harriet.

The couple also enjoyed several diving holidays together and Mr Whitbread is believed to be an experienced scuba diver. 

Michele was found by police in her first-floor bedroom and the keys to the house were reportedly still in the front door

Michele was found by police in her first-floor bedroom and the keys to the house were reportedly still in the front door

A local plumber who the couple employed confirmed the Facebook identities to MailOnline and said: ‘I just can’t believe it. They seemed such a perfect couple. We stayed in touch and would message each other every now and then.

‘I live about 40km away and I heard the news from my friend who lives across the road from Michele and Michael. She was found stabbed. I’m shocked.

‘The area is full of British people and I have numerous British clients. They employ me to help install boilers and water pipes on their properties.

‘I last saw Michele and Michael a year ago when I came to check the boiler. They had bought some abandoned properties in front of their house and were going to do them up. I just can’t believe it.’

Meanwhile at the scene the house was still taped off and a British registered campervan was parked alongside the property with another van which has Italian plates.

Around the house are olive trees, lemon groves and cumquat plants and in a sign of the couple’s British links, a dartboard is on an outside wall.

The nearby commune of Palombaro is home to 100 British expats who moved to the area to buy and renovate abandoned farmhouses. 

The wider region of Abruzzo is popular with middle class Britons who have moved there because of the cheap cost of living or have holiday homes there. 

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