THE body of midwife Samantha Eastwood was found in a shallow grave wrapped in a duvet cover and with tape around her eyes and face, a court heard.
It was discovered in woodland near Caverswall, Staffordshire, on Saturday — eight days after Miss Eastwood, 28, went missing.
Michael Stirling, 32, of Stoke-on-Trent, was yesterday charged at Stafford crown court with her murder.
Appearing from HMP Dovecote via video link, he spoke only to confirm his name, age and nationality and that he understood the proceedings.
Stirling (pictured below), the brother-in-law of Miss Eastwood’s ex-fiancé John Peake, is accused of murdering the popular Royal Stoke Hospital worker between July 26 and August 5 at Baddeley Green, Stoke.
Jonas Hankin QC, prosecuting, told the court the investigation into the death was ‘complex’ and meant a provisional trial date early next year was unlikely to remain in place.
The court heard that a preliminary post-mortem examination did not reveal any gunshot, stab or penetrating wounds. Further analysis of neck bones was due to be carried out.
No application for bail was made and Stirling was not required to enter any plea. He was remanded in custody to appear at Northampton crown court for a plea hearing on October 5.
Two men, aged 28 and 60, who were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, remain on conditional police bail while inquiries continue.
In a statement issued through police earlier this week, the midwife’s family said: ‘We would like to say thank you to all the people who followed Samantha’s story and tried their best to help.’