The quiet atmosphere on the Millenium Village estate in Allerton Bywater yesterday belied the horror that had befallen three of its residents.
Most people were at work or school when news started to break that a woman and two children had apparently been murdered inside one of the unremarkable red brick properties in this relatively newly built neighbourhood.
To anyone returning home at the end of the day, the presence of numerous police officers, vehicles and a significant cordon made it clear that a serious incident had taken place.
White-suited scenes of crime officers wearing masks could be seen entering and leaving through the red front door of the mid-terrace property as a large group of plain-clothes officers held discussions in the street.
The arrival of journalists from most media outlets was further evidence of the gravity of the situation.
It is thought the bodies of a woman – named locally as Geraldine Newman – and her two children, 12-year-old Shannon and Shane, aged six, may have lain undiscovered since at least the previous day.
Ms Newman’s body was found downstairs, while the bodies of the children were discovered on the first floor.
There was a palpable sense of shock among fellow residents of the estate, even from those people who didn’t know the victims, that such a terrible crime could have taken place on their doorstep.
Chloe Firth, 11, who is a friend of Shannon, said: “She was really bubbly and laughed a lot and was very kind to everyone else.
“I just can’t believe it. You don’t expect something like this to happen.”
Chloe’s father Sean, 44, added: “What can you say? It’s devastating.
“You don’t think anything like this could happen around here. It’s very quiet. People keep themselves to themselves.”
Work on the Millenium Village estate started in 2000 and it has become popular with families, with a playground situated at one end of the estate. More houses are in the process of being built.
It is thought Wilko shop manager Ms Newman and her family had been in their property for about five years.
A sign bearing the family’s name on the outside of the property was belatedly covered up by officers yesterday afternoon as publicity around what had happened began to grow.
A woman who lives on Warren House Road, which backs on to Beeston Way, said: “We are just really shocked and sad.
“You just don’t know what’s happening on your doorstep.
“The kiddies used to play outside on their scooters.”
She said she saw police arrive at the house at about 11.30am and added: “They kept themselves to themselves. I think they must have been here for about five years.
“I remember seeing them around for as long as I’ve lived here. I’m absolutely shocked and really sad.”
It is thought police had been called on at least one previous occasion to the Beeston Way property following reports of a domestic disturbance.
In an initial statement yesterday afternoon, Detective Chief Inspector Warren Stevenson, of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team said that initial indications suggested the killings were “a domestic-related incident”.
He added: “We are carrying out a full and comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding their deaths and are conducting extensive enquiries.
“We would like to hear from anyone who witnessed anything in the area of the address in the period leading up to when the discovery was made.”
Following yesterday’s incident, detectives were thought to be looking for Ms Newman’s estranged husband, Paul, who is believed to have moved to Normanton.
West Yorkshire Police were later notified of the discovery of a man’s body in Wales, which they said could be linked to their inquiries.
They were in contact with North Wales Police, who were working to formally identify the body.
Meanwhile, many neighbours were visibly upset as they arrived home to be told by other residents about the news.
One man, who lives on Davy Road, just around the corner from the Newmans’ house, said: “It’s a quiet estate.
“It’s got a good sense of community. There’s never really any anti-social behaviour or anything.
“It’s quite a middle-class area. Crime is relatively low –there’s no bother.”
He added: “I’m shocked and saddened. I’m surprised and a bit confused about it all.”
Mother-of-two Lesley Hirst, 47, of Beeston Way, said: “It’s just really sad, unexpected and a shock.
“It’s just a real family estate and it’s quiet. There’s an awful lot of children live on the estate.”
Father of two Wesley Rice, 38, of Redpoll Drive, said: “We went trick-or-treating and knocked on that door. A lady came out and gave the children sweets. She was very nice.”
He added: “To have something like this happen so close to home is extremely shocking for us. It’s a lovely area.
“The majority of people are young professional couples with very young children.”
Inquests into the three deaths are expected to open shortly.