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Woman, 35, appears in court charged with murder of her parents

 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

A woman has been remanded into custody charged with the murders of her parents.

Virginia McCullough, 35, is accused of murdering John McCullough and Lois McCullough between August 21, 2018, and September 15, 2023, in Chelmsford, Essex, a court charge sheet said.

Essex Police said she had been charged with the murders of a man and a woman aged in their 70s.

It is understood they are the defendant’s parents.

McCullough, of Pump Hill, Chelmsford, was not asked to enter pleas during a two-minute hearing at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The defendant, who wore a grey prison-issue tracksuit and had a blonde bob haircut, spoke only to confirm her personal details.

No details were opened in court.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Virginia McCullough (PA)
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Virginia McCullough (PA)

She was accompanied by a custody officer as she stood in the courtroom’s secure dock.

McCullough is next due to appear before Basildon Crown Court on Tuesday for a bail application hearing.

Essex Police said it began an investigation after receiving reports of concern for the well-being of the two people aged in their 70s.

The force said it believes the pair have died.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “A woman has been charged with two counts of murder following an investigation by detectives and staff from our serious crime directorate.

“On Wednesday September 13, we received reports of concerns for the welfare of two people aged in their 70s.

“As a result of the extensive work carried out by a dedicated investigative team, our strong belief based on all the evidence available is that the two people in question are no longer alive.

“The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is in agreement with this assessment.”

Police and forensic investigators at a property in Pump Hill, Great Baddow in Chelmsford (PA Media)
Police and forensic investigators at a property in Pump Hill, Great Baddow in Chelmsford (PA Media)

The force said it had been authorised by the CPS to charge McCullough with two counts of murder.

Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Although we have received authorisation to charge Virginia McCullough, this complex and in-depth investigation will be continuing at pace throughout the coming weeks and months.

“I would also reiterate that our continued belief is that this is an isolated incident and there is no threat to the wider Chelmsford or Essex public.

“Our thoughts today are with the families of everyone involved and I can assure them all avenues of inquiry will be pursued extensively to piece together the circumstances around this matter.”