Epsom College headteacher and daughter killed by husband in murder-suicide, police believe
The headteacher of Epsom College and her seven-year-old daughter were killed by her husband in a double-murder suicide, police believe.
Surrey Police confirmed the deaths of headteacher Emma Pattison and her daughter Lettie are being treated as a murder investigation.
Their bodies were found in the grounds of the prestigious private school along with Mrs Pattison’s husband George on Sunday morning.
The force has not yet confirmed the cause of deaths but investigators have said a firearm was recovered from the scene.
Mr Pattison, a chartered accountant, had a gun licence and had been in contact with Surrey Police just days before the killings to notify officers of a change of address.
The force has subsequently referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
According to The Times, Mrs Pattison had contacted a close relative with concerns about her husband in the hours before the killings.
The bodies of Mrs Pattison and Lettie were found alongside Mr Pattison on school grounds at 1am on Sunday morning.
A member of school staff is said to have called emergency services on Sunday after hearing gunshots.
Previous reports suggested the college’s rifle range was cordoned off on Monday, but Surrey Police has since confirmed that it is not considered part of the investigation.
Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey, senior investigating officer, said: “This is an incredibly traumatic incident and we are working around the clock to investigate and understand the exact circumstances which led to this point.
“We understand the public concern and upset, and we will clarify what we can, when we can, while respecting the right to a level of privacy for the families of those who have lost their lives.
“We are cooperating fully with the IOPC in relation to the referral we have made, and we await the outcome of its assessment of what further action may be required. Until this has been completed, we will be unable to provide further details on a number of matters.”
The college remains open and pupils and staff are being offered counselling. The school’s flag is flying at half-mast.
Speaking on the school’s Epsom Insight podcast in December, Ms Pattison spoke of her arrival as headteacher in September.
She said the transition from her previous job in Croydon had been a “big change” for her family, with her daughter moving school and her husband - who was the director of a management consultancy called Tanglewood 2016 - getting a new job.
“There has been a lot of change for us as a family but it’s been wonderful,” Ms Pattison said. “There is so much to look ahead to and be excited about … there is so much to come.”
The headteacher’s former colleagues have paid tribute to her following the news of her death.
In a statement, Epsom College, which was named independent school of the year in 2022, said: “It is with the deepest sadness and regret that we have to announce the news of the deaths of Emma Pattison, Head of Epsom College, her daughter Lettie, and her husband George.
“Our thoughts, condolences and sympathies are with their families at this tragic time.”
Dr Alastair Wells, chair of the board of governors at Epsom College also paid tribute to the “wonderful teacher” and asked that members of the school are given the time to come to terms with the tragic loss.
He said: “On behalf of everyone at Epsom College, I want to convey our utter shock and disbelief at this tragic news.
“Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with Emma’s family, friends and loved ones, and to the many pupils and colleagues whose lives she enriched throughout her distinguished career.”
Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), of which Croydon High School where Mrs Pattison was headteacher for six years is part, said: “We are immensely shocked and saddened by the news about the death of Emma Pattison, her daughter Lettie and her husband George.
“Our thoughts are with their family at this time, as well as everyone at Croydon High School, and Epsom College, which Emma joined as head in September 2022.
“Emma was a much loved and respected member of the GDST community, as well as a talented head and teacher and a dear friend to many of us,” the statement continued.
“She touched the lives of all of us with her energy, wisdom and kindness during her six years as head of Croydon High School and the school will always bear the legacy of her inspiring leadership.
“We are taking time to support staff and students at Croydon High School as well as everyone in the GDST family, and their wellbeing will be our priority in the coming days.”
Mrs Pattison became the first female headteacher of Epsom College in September 2022 after six years as headteacher at Croydon High School.
Boarding pupils at Epsom College pay more than £42,00 a year and alumni include Conservative MP Sir Michael Fallon, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and comedian Tim Vine.