Sarah was reported as a missing person to Bedfordshire Police on 21 February. Prior to this, friends and family were concerned about Sarah, her relationship with Waddell and her lack of communication with them.
It became clear that Waddell had lied to her family for weeks, claiming that Sarah was at a hospital being treated for her mental health and that her phone was broken so she could not answer calls.
As part of the missing person investigation, Waddell spoke to police officers and again claimed that Sarah was in hospital, going as far as to claim she was ‘safe’.
Shortly after their visit, officers received a text message from someone purporting to be Sarah. Hospital records and phone data did not corroborate with Waddell’s stories.
The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit launched a murder investigation and Waddell was arrested on suspicion of murder on 25 February.
Officers searched their address in Winston Crescent and a large amount of blood was found around the house. Despite Waddell’s attempts to conceal Sarah’s body, she was discovered in the property shortly after.
A post mortem gave the cause of death as airway obstruction caused by catastrophic injuries to her head, and it was believed she died in November 2022.
Today (Thursday), Waddell, of Winston Crescent, Biggleswade, was sentenced at Luton Crown Court to life in prison, and will serve a minimum of 32 years.
In a tribute released after the sentencing, Sarah’s family said: “There are no words to describe the pain of what Matthew Waddell has put us as a family through. A pain indescribable which we will live the rest of our lives with. We will never understand why or how anyone could do such a horrific act in such a callous way.
“Sarah was a beautiful ray of sunshine in all our lives, always bright, sweet and full of life. Sarah touched so many lives with her kind heart and beautiful smile, which would light up any room as soon as she walked in.
“Sarah had a love for singing, with such a passion for music. Sarah loved walking in the sunshine with her dog, Darla, but most of all loved and adored her three amazing children.
“She would do anything to help anyone. Sarah was incredibly selfless and would always put others before herself, no matter what she was going through in her own life. This is what made Sarah the special person we all love, adore and now miss so much.
“While today is hugely sad for all of us, we are determined to ensure a difference comes from this tragedy and that Sarah leaves a positive legacy.
“If there is any woman out there living in fear of their partner, please come forward and report it. If you are worried about someone you know, please come forward and report it.
“The police and a whole host of other brilliant charities and local support services are all committed to keeping victims safe from domestic violence and abuse.
“Our plea to people is to please reach out for help when you can, as we would want no other family to have to go through what we have.
“We love and miss you Sarah, always in our hearts, forever and always.”
If you have concerns about someone you can report this to police on 101 or online.