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Murders of two 16-year-old boys a mile apart are linked, say police

The scene at Titmuss Avenue, Thamesmead, in south-east London, following the fatal stabbings of two 16-year-old boys just a mile apart (Grace Donaghy/PA)
The scene at Titmuss Avenue, Thamesmead, in south-east London, following the fatal stabbings of two 16-year-old boys just a mile apart (Grace Donaghy/PA)

The fatal stabbings of two 16-year-old boys just a mile apart in south-east London are linked, police have said.

Kearne Solanke was found with stab wounds in Titmuss Avenue, Thamesmead, and Charlie Bartolo was discovered in Sewell Road, Abbey Wood, on Saturday afternoon.

As neighbours mourned their murders, police revealed on Sunday afternoon they are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen a dark-coloured SUV-type vehicle in the area.

Detective Superintendent Richard McDonagh, speaking at the scene of one of the incidents, told reporters: “Homicide colleagues are investigating and are treating the two murders as linked.

“I can assure everybody affected by these murders that skilled detectives will work tirelessly to discover what happened and provide answers to the young victims and families.

“Officers are especially keen to hear from anyone who might have seen a dark-coloured SUV or 4X4 type with distinctive silver roof bars in the areas around Sewell Road or Titmuss Avenue in the days prior to the murders.

“We have already heard from a number of witnesses and I’m grateful to them.”

The Metropolitan Police were called out at around 5.10pm on Saturday to reports that people had been injured at both locations.

Both youths were pronounced dead and murder investigations were launched.

Crime scenes remained in place at both locations on Sunday, with police guarding the cordons.

Murder scene
The scene at Titmuss Avenue, Thamesmead, where one of the boys was murdered (Grace Donaghy/PA)

Several teenage boys laid flowers by the cordon in Titmuss Avenue, where a forensics tent could be seen by some knocked over dustbins.

One was tearful as he placed a red love-heart balloon alongside them.

Officers later cordoned off a black Nissan and one said it is a “car of interest” in the investigation.

Mr McDonagh said he joins the community in “being deeply saddened and outraged by the senseless murders”.

Local residents spoke of their dismay at the murders.

Bamidele Folorunso, a neighbour who did not give her age but lives nearby and was on the way to church, told the PA news agency: “It is very sad.

Tributes left at murder scene
Tributes have been left at the scene of the murder in Titmuss Avenue, Thamesmead (Grace Donaghy/PA)

“We just found out the boy was on the floor and the police came and they tried to resuscitate him.”

A visibly upset Ms Folorunso said: “Since then, everyone in the area has been mourning. It is very sad to lose a 16-year-old boy.”

Victor, 30, a football manager, who says he went to school with the victim’s mother, said the stabbing was “not normal” for the area but things have been getting worse in recent years.

“There is a lot of stuff going on on the street with the young kids – it’s due to the lack of youth centres.

“There is not really a place where kids say ‘this is a safe environment’.”

Local resident Gillian Southwest
Local resident Gillian Southwest described the victim she knew as a ‘good boy’ (Grace Donaghy/PA)

“I’ve got three kids. I went and told my partner (about the stabbing) and she said ‘I want to get out of here’.”

Teresa Cheshire, 50, who also lives on the road, said her children walk down the road every day.

She said: “I just saw a lot of people by the bin shed.

“All I heard was the screaming and that was at 5.20pm.

“It is scary because it is all the press and everything but it is for all the wrong reasons.

“I’m frightened to let my kids outside now.

Murder scene
Police are appealing for information from the public to trace those responsible (Grace Donaghy/PA)

“It’s just shocking.”

Gillian Southwest, 48, who also lives on the road, said: “It is terrible. I have lived here for 28 years.

“If it’s the boy I think it is he’s a really a good boy.”

A 32-year-old man, who did not wish to be named but lived on the road all his life, said he was waiting for an ambulance for his grandmother when a commotion began.

“I heard some noise at about 6 o’clock – the bins were all rattling.

“There are always some kids running through making noise but something like this is out of the ordinary.

“To hear something like this in this area is shocking.”