AN ARGENTINIAN man accused of murdering a champion dog breeder has died in prison while awaiting trial.
Alex Verdu Munoz, 26, was locked up in Strangeways Prison in Manchester after allegedly killing Valerie Freer, 68.
She was tragically found dead on the driveway of her home in Whittington, Staffs, on February 24.
A post-mortem confirmed the celebrated Crufts breeder had died due to fatal neck injuries.
Munoz was charged with her murder in March – as well as a string of other offences concerning other unrelated incidents.
He also faced two counts of aggravated burglary, one count of burglary, possession of a bladed article and dangerous driving.
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Police explained the murder charge relates to Valerie's death, while the aggravated burglary and other charges relate to incidents which took place some days before – February 12 and 21.
But while remanded in custody in the notorious northern prison awaiting trial, the 26-year-old passed away on May 15.
Staffordshire Police said the death of Munoz, of no fixed address, was not being treated as suspicious. His next of kin have been informed.
The force said family liaison officers are continuing to support Valerie's loved ones and the Argentinian's other alleged victims.
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Detective Inspector Ian Fitzgerald said: "I would like to reassure the community that we remain committed to helping the family of Valerie as well as all those affected by the events that took place in Whittington in February this year.
"We will continue to provide support to our colleagues in Greater Manchester Police as they work to prepare a file for Her Majesty’s Coroner in order for an inquest into the death of Mr Munoz to be held in due course."
Valerie, who lived in a bungalow on Lichfield Road with her husband, was a renowned breeder of Samoyed dogs.
One of her dogs, Champion Nikara Dancer, was awarded Best in Show at Crufts in 2014.
The 68-year-old was set to return to the renowned dog show with her prized pooches just a week after her death.
Her heartbroken family paid tribute to the "beautiful" breeder in a moving statement at the time of her passing.
They said: "Words cannot even begin to describe how truly devastated we are to have lost our wonderful Val.
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"An incredibly beautiful lady both inside and out, she was always so loving and caring to all those around her.
"Val is loved infinitely by family and friends around the world. She will be hugely missed, remaining forever in our hearts."
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