Police are hunting for a man wanted on suspicion of murder after a woman died in a house fire in Stoke-on-Trent.
Georgian Constantin, 42, is believed to have travelled to London, and is sought in connection with the death of his former wife Valentina Cozma, 40, in a blaze last week.
She had a teenage son, and her sister described her as “a supportive caring woman who always tried to keep the family together”.
Tributes have been paid to Valentina Cozma. Photograph: Staffordshire police/PA
Ch Supt Colin Mattinson, of Staffordshire police, said: “My thoughts are with Valentina’s loved ones, and in particular her young son at this deeply traumatic time.
“I know the local community are in shock that someone within their community has died in such awful circumstances. We take a firm stance against violence against women and domestic abuse.”
“A teenage boy has lost his mother, we need to secure justice for him, Valentina, and her wider family,” he added, urging anyone with information to get in touch with police.
Cozma died after a fire at her home in Stoke at about 3pm on Thursday. A postmortem recorded smoke inhalation as the cause of death.
In a tribute issued on Monday, her sister said: “Vali was the person I could talk to about anything. She offered me support whenever I needed it. She always tried to keep the family together. Being an older sister, she made sure we didn’t lack anything, even if she didn’t have a thing.
“She went through a lot of hard times, yet she never gave up. I am appealing for help from anyone who has details that could help in solving this case.”
Police said Cozma and Constantin, who both came to the UK from Romania in 2017, had been separated for about three years and shared custody of their 16-year-old son.
Mattinson said Cozma “was a quiet woman who was well liked among her neighbours having lived in the area for some years”.
Police said they believed Constantin had travelled to London from Stoke and that he also had links to Southampton. They urged the public not to approach him, and to call 999 immediately with his location if sighted.
“We are working around the clock to trace Constantin. But we also need your help – so my plea is to anyone who has information, no matter how insignificant it may seem – to get in touch,” Mattinson said.
“I am also appealing to Constantin himself, or anyone who may be harbouring him to get in touch. Running away is not the answer. Anyone found to be assisting an offender will be dealt with robustly as this is a serious crime.”
Source: the guardian