A mother and daughter who were victims in a suspected double murder at their home were on the phone to police as the fatal attack unfolded, according to detectives.
Raneem Oudeh, 22, and Khaola Saleem, 49, in Solihull, were assaulted in the early hours of Bank Holiday Monday, at Ms Saleem’s house.
Janbaz Tarin, who is Miss Oudeh’s ex-lover, is being sought in connection with the incident, but has so far not been traced.
Clarifying “speculation” about police contact with Miss Oudeh in the hours leading up to her death, West Midlands Police said there had been “a number of calls” from her to the force, on Sunday night.
In a statement, police added one of its call handlers was on the phone to the young woman when “the situation quickly escalated” – and “immediately” dispatched officers to the scene.
Officers rushed to the victims’ home in Northdown Road, shortly after 12.30am, finding them fatally wounded.
Despite the efforts of emergency services neither could be saved.
A large-scale operation to trace Tarin is currently under way, with three addresses having been raided by police, including one in Sparkhill, in nearby Birmingham.
Computer equipment and mobile phones have been seized and a van is undergoing forensic examination.
The force has appealed directly to Tarin, an Afghan national who is in the UK legally, to hand himself in and also warned against anyone “shielding” the 21-year-old.
Chief Constable Dave Thompson tweeted: “Huge effort under way to locate this man. Call us, web chat us or tell Crimestoppers UK if you can help.”
Miss Oudeh had a two-year-old son, though Tarin is not the father, and had moved to England from Syria, along with Ms Saleem, who herself had six children.
In a statement, their family said they had been left “devastated”.
Following a public appeal, police said they had received dozens of phone calls and were currently sifting the information and a number of potential sightings.
“The response from the public to our appeal has been positive and we are following up all credible lines of inquiry − but we need anyone with information on Tarin’s whereabouts to get in touch.
“This is a shocking, tragic case.”
In a statement, the force said: “Following speculation over police contact with the victim on the evening, we are clarifying the following points.
“There were a number of calls from Miss Oudeh to police on Sunday evening and we tried to physically locate her but were unsuccessful.
“Contact was being made to arrange to see Miss Oudeh and it was during this conversation that the situation quickly escalated and the call handler immediately dispatched officers to the location in Northdown Road where they arrived within minutes.”
At the scene on Monday, forensics tents were visible and house-to-house inquiries were being carried out.
CCTV footage is also being examined and residents have been told to expect a visible police presence in the area in coming days.
The public has been advised not to approach Tarin and to call 999.