A murder investigation has been launched after a family of four and their dog were found dead in a West Sussex village.

The bodies, understood to be those of a man, his partner and their two young daughters, were discovered at a house in Woodmancote, near Chichester.

Sussex Police named the dead as 42-year-old Robert Needham, 40-year-old Kelly Fitzgibbons, four-year-old Ava Needham and two-year-old Lexi Needham.

Robert Needham.

Robert Needham. Photograph: Sussex Police handout

Officers from Sussex police attended the address in Duffield Lane at about 6.45pm on Sunday evening after receiving a call raising concerns for the welfare of the residents.

When they arrived, they found four bodies. Police said they were treating it as a murder investigation but detectives were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

The family were seen at the end of last week taking their daily exercise in the fields around their home, a detached house with a large garden.

Ch Supt Jerry Westerman said: “This is believed to be an isolated incident contained to one property and in these early stages of the investigation we are not seeking anyone else in connection with the incident.”

Residents of the village were told they could expect to see a heightened police presence in the area.

One neighbour described the scene as police arrived at the house. “The activity started about 6.55pm but by 7.15pm or 7.20pm when I looked out there were upwards of eight or 10 police cars and a couple of paramedics vehicles with both marked and unmarked police cars,” they said.

“It’s surprising that there has been an incident of this kind in this lane. You can never tell what’s going on behind doors. I’ve never heard any sound of argument coming from the house.”

Another resident, Ian Richardson, said it was a close community and the neighbourhood was considered a low-crime area. He added: “I have tried to put it into context and think it’s something that happens all over the place.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Sussex police on 101, quoting Operation Cotton.

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