Police believe a 74-year-old woman who recently died may have committed the perfect murder - that of her husband, who disappeared 18 years ago and whose body was found wrapped in plastic sheeting just three weeks after she died. John Sabine, who would now have been 85, was last seen in 1997 but was never reported missing. His wife Ann died of cancer on 30 October 2015.

On 24 November a body was discovered in the grounds of a residential complex in Beddau, near Caerphilly in South Wales, where the couple had moved shortly before John's disappearance. A postmortem revealed the man had injuries consistent with an assault and had been wrapped in plastic sheeting. Today police confirmed the man's identity and said his wife is the chief suspect.

Police revealed that the couple had estranged children who had not reported their father missing. His name also remained on the electoral roll at the property he shared with New Zealander Ann, nicknamed "Mad Leigh" by locals despite being known for her cheery disposition. She is reported to have arranged barbecues for Beddau neighbours in the garden where the body was concealed.

"Their estranged children have been located and informed," said a police spokesman. "Mr Sabine was not reported as being missing. The circumstances of where the body was concealed is part of the ongoing investigation."

The police spokesman added: "He is believed to have moved to Trem-Y-Cwm with his wife Leigh Ann Sabine in February 1997. DNA evidence has confirmed the identity of Mr Sabine, who was last seen in 1997. Mrs Sabine passed away on 30th October 2015 and is currently the main suspect in this investigation."

South Wales Police Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Morgan said: "This is an extraordinary set of circumstances and we are working tirelessly to put together the pieces of what is a complex investigation. We would appreciate hearing from anyone who knew John and Leigh (Ann) Sabine and who may have socialised with them or met them back in 1996-1997. We would also appeal directly to the community in and around Trem-Y-Cwm to contact us with any information they may have in relation to the plastic wrapping that Mr Sabine was concealed in."