Kenyan mum in UK suspected of killing baby and fleeing to Kenya
Angela Whitworth, 40, and her ex Nabil Dahane, 33, were due in court next month over 20-month-old Sarah. Police and social services had also contacted them over non-violent rows.
A senior detective investigating the death told the Mirror the cause of death remains a mystery and an initial post-mortem examination was inconclusive.
Further tests are being carried out as there are no visible signs of trauma on the tot’s body, but DCI Ian Hunter added smothering has not been ruled out.
He said: “We are investigating this incident as a murder, however I retain an open mind as at this time I can’t exclude accident or natural causes contributing to Sarah’s death.
“Sarah Dahane was a healthy, thriving and well-nourished child who was dead with no obvious signs of trauma,
“This is a detailed and thorough investigation to establish the truth and identify the exact circumstances into how and why Sarah died.
“There were ongoing legal proceedings regarding custody of Sarah between her mother and father.
“Angela Whitworth is 40 years old, she is a suspect but she is believed to be in Kenya.”
Sarah’s body was found at the home she shared with her mum in Bicester, Oxon., last Thursday morning.
Officers forced their way into the semi-detached house after Sarah’s dad contacted police when Ms Whitworth failed to drop his daughter off for a visit.
Detectives do not yet know the exact time of death, however Ms Whitworth fled the country on Wednesday evening, flying out of Heathrow airport.
Police are speaking with flight staff to establish what Ms Whitworth’s state of mind was when she left the UK.
Ms Whitworth and Mr Dahane, 33, separated while she was pregnant with Sarah.
Mr Dahane now has a new partner who lives across the road from Ms Whitworth’s home of more than 10 years.
Police revealed they were called to three domestic rows between the couple between 2011 and last year.
Oxfordshire county council social services has also had prior contact with the family.
DCI Hunter said: “We have previously received three call about the couple but they were arguments relating to access and proceedings. There was no violence.”
Ms Whitworth had full custody of Sarah and Mr Dahane had regular access, however he was battling for his daughter to live with him permanently.
The mum, who worked in the care sector, is believed to still be in Kenya, where her mother and other relatives live.
DCI Hunter said police have not ruled out the possibility Sarah died by accident or of natural causes, leading Ms Whitworth to flee the country in a panic.
Detectives are taking advice from the CPS’s extradition unit on how to get Ms Whitworth back to the UK.
Thames Valley Police’s major crime unit is also working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Interpol.