A woman strangled in her own home was this morning described as a "lovely, normal lady who wouldn't hurt a fly" by her shocked neighbours.

Anna Maria Thomas, 61, was found dead by paramedics and police on December 10 at her home in Chilworth Court, Windlesham Grove, Southfields.

On Saturday a murder investigation was launched and a 33-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of the murder and has since been sectioned under the mental health act.

The mother of one had lived on the estate, on the edge of Wimbledon Common, for around 40 years, first living with her mother and bringing up her son as a single parent.

She later moved out but returned to care for her mother when she was taken ill and remained in the flat after her mother died.

She is believed to have been living with a lodger at the time of her death.

The grandmother was a regular church goer and was often seen riding her bike around the area.

Neighbours this morning said they were in a state of shock and that nothing like it had ever happened on the estate before which they described as a "close knit community".

Louise Gill, from Wandsworth, grew up with Ms Thomas and her son Richard and described her as a lovely lady who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

She said: "She wasn’t the type that you would have thought someone like that was in her life.

"She was quite a wary person.

"You couldn’t say a bad word about her.

"She was lovely.

"That’s why it’s so horrible.

"Especially in your own house when you are meant to be safe."

She added: "She was the most normal person, didn’t smoke or drink and didn’t go out a lot.

"I grew up with her and was friends with her son.

"When I was younger she was my best friend.

"We would all go round to her house all the time.

"She used to have cats and everyone used to play round there."

A post-mortem examination at St George's Hospital on Thursday gave the cause of death as compression of the neck.

An inquest will open and adjourn in due course.

Those that knew Ms Thomas are asked to contact police to assist the investigation.

An Incident Room as opened at Sutton Police Station under the command of Detective Chief Inspector John McFarlane of the HMCC.

The incident room number is 020 8721 4205.

To remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Did you know Ms Thomas? Leave your tribute below or call the newsdesk on 020 8722 6344