Police searching for ex-EastEnders actress Sian Blake and her two young children have found three bodies in the garden of the family home - as the appeal to find her missing boyfriend continues.
The 43-year-old who played Frankie Pierre in the soap, was last seen after visiting relatives in Leyton, east London, with her sons Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, on December 13, and neighbours reported seeing her loading bags into the boot of her car.
Three days later, police spoke to her partner, the children's father Arthur Simpson-Kent, 48, at the family's home in Erith, Kent, and he has since disappeared. Police have refused to clarify why they spoke to Mr Simpson-Kent.
A murder investigation was launched after the bodies were discovered and forensic teams were seen searching the property. Neighbours said police had been at the house for several days.
Questions are being asked as to why officers missed three bodies during their 20-day search for the mother-of-two.
The bodies have not yet formally been identified, but police repeated appeals for help finding Mr Simpson-Kent.
Post-mortem examinations on all three bodies will take place tomorrow.
Speaking at her family home in east London, Ms Blake's mother Lyndall said 'I'm doing okay' despite the horrific discovery this afternoon.
Detective Superintendent Paul Monk, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command said: 'Sadly, as part of a thorough forensic search we are carrying out at the family's home in Erith, we recovered three bodies from the garden of the property.
'As yet, we have not formally identified the bodies but this is of course a significant development and Sian's family have been informed.
'This continues to be a fast moving investigation and our thoughts are with Sian's family at this time.'Earlier today, forensic officers were seen erecting a tent in the garden of the home in Erith, Kent.
A private ambulance arrived outside the house just after 3pm.
Ms Blake - who played homewrecker Frankie in the BBC soap in the mid-1990s and had recently been suffering from Motor Neurone Disease – had been missing for nearly three weeks after visiting family in Leyton, east London, with her sons.
It was earlier revealed that the sign language teacher was in the company of her boyfriend Mr Simpson-Kent when she was last seen loading bags into the boot of her car on December 13.
Discovery: The bodies were discovered in the garden of the family home in Erith, south east London. Pictured: Undertakers remove one body from the scene
Appeal: The three bodies have not yet formally been identified, but police repeated calls for help finding Ms Blake's partner Arthur Simpson-Kent
Evidence: Forensics remove items from Ms Blake's family home tonight after the bodies were found this afternoon
Officers carried evidence bags and plastic bottled as they left the home of the former EastEnders actress
Aerial view: Two blue police forensic tents were erected in the rear garden of the family's three-bedroom bungalow in Pembrooke Road, Erith. Forensics can be seen combing the area for evidence, while reporters, pictured at the front of the house, line the street
Tent: Forensics and a police officer are pictured in the garden in the home in Erith today as the area was dug up
Neighbours claimed Mr Simpson-Kent, a hairdresser, returned to Ms Blake's family home in Erith the following day.
He was spoken to by officers on December 16 but has not been seen or heard from since. Before the bodies were found, police had said he was not a suspect in the case.
DS Monk added: 'If anyone has any information about where he is or his movements since 16 December then please get in touch with us.
'I would also like to ask anyone who may have seen Sian and her children, or who may have information about their movements since the last confirmed sighting on 13 December, to call us.
'This is now a murder investigation and as such I'd urge anyone who can help our investigation to contact us.'
Ms Blake's three-bedroom 1930s bungalow in Pembroke Road was guarded by police officers, with several vehicles including a dog unit parked outside.
A path running alongside the family home was cordoned off while forensic officers worked in the property.
Officers in forensic suits and masks could be briefly seen in the front garden of the partly boarded up house, which has a double mattress propped up by the front door.
Concern: Ms Blake left with children Zachary, left, eight, and Amon, four, after packing the boot of her car
Probe: Police said that they are now also 'concerned' for the welfare of Ms Blake's boyfriend Arthur Simpson-Kent, who is pictured with his son Amon. The appeal to find him is still ongoing
Inquiry: Police forensic officers could be seen working outside the family home this evening with a policeman
Work: A forensic officer carries items into Ms Blake's family home in Erith, London, following the discovery
Prepared: A forensic worker carries plastic sheeting into the property as they continue to gather evidence
Shut: A path running outside the family home in Erith was cordoned off tonight as forensics continued working
Neighbour John Waterhouse, 65, a waterman on the River Thames, said: 'It's terrible news, just terrible.
'I just don't know what to say, it's terrible, she was a lovely woman, the kids, the little kids, it's just terrible, they were great kids.
'I'm gutted, truly gutted. I hope they catch the person who did this, all the neighbours have said recently that she seemed withdrawn and now this, it's just terrible.
TIMELINE: HOW EVENTS UNFOLDED
'She has been here for a few years now. She is very unassuming, I used to stop and speak to her, just say hello and how's it going, just being polite.
'She would always respond and be nice, which was good. I only used to see her eldest kid, I rarely saw the old man, maybe once, and never saw the youngest one.
'Recently she seemed withdrawn, I don't know why, I don't know if that's because of her motor neurone disease, I just don't know. She was very down to earth, I know she was in EastEnders and some actresses and actors can be a bit up themselves but she wasn't.'
Next door neighbour Sammy Sanni-Alashe, 52, added: 'I can't believe it, I'm so sad, I can't believe this news.
'I am crying inside, she always used to be playing in the garden with the children, I am just so sad, I don't know what to say.
'I can't believe someone would do this to them, to a family, it's horrible. I'm just in so much shock I can't speak, I don't know what to do, it's terrible, it's so sad.'
Another neighbour, who lived opposite, added: 'Sian used to bring her two boys over all the time to play with my kids.
'She last came over a year ago. She was really lovely, I'm absolutely devastated.
'I always thought her partner Arthur was really nice. He lived with Sian and used to smile and wave all the time.'
Another said she was shocked to learn of the discovery of the three bodies this afternoon.
She said: 'It's quite scary living opposite that house.. It just goes to show that you don't know your neighbours.
'I would never have expected this to happen down my road.'
Over the weekend Ms Blake's silver Renault Scenic - registration number SM54 FUO - was found abandoned in Calvert Avenue, Bethnal Green, east London.
Police said it is not known why the vehicle was dumped or who had driven it there. Locals said Ms Blake rarely drove because of her illness.
Dig: This morning two officers were seen carrying digging equipment into the garden of the home before the discovery was made
Scene: A blue forensic police tent has been erected in the back garden of the home as investigations continue
Search: Police carrying spades and other digging equipment enter the house as the search for Ms Blake, her husband and two young children continue
Investigation: Scotland Yard confirmed that officers from the Met's Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC) were now leading the search yesterday. Pictured: Police officers are pictured outside the home in Erith
As the news of her disappearance spread, neighbours had told how Ms Blake was looking 'thin and frail' because of the illness.
They previously claimed she had voiced her health concerns in recent weeks, with ambulances being seen outside her Kent home on several occasions.
The Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC) yesterday announced they were leading the investigation, with assistance from local officers in Bexley.
Inquiry: Police officers were pictured outside of the family home today as forensic search the premises
Forensics: The Metropolitan Police said officers were conducting searches of the family home as part of their investigation earlier today
Mystery: Ms Blake was last seen packing black bags into the boot of a car in Waltham Forest, east London. The car - silver Renault Scenic - was found abandoned in Calvert Avenue, Bethnal Green, east London over the weekend
Ms Blake was 24 when she left Eastenders in 1997 after being inundated with hate mail from viewers who took a considerable dislike to her character, known for seducing men in relationships.
She said viewers struggled to separate her from her character, who arrived on the square as a soul singer with a band. She appeared in 56 episodes between 1996 and 1997.
Frankie Pierre used blackmail and scheming to snare cafe worker Alan Jackson (Howard Antony), eventually breaking up his marriage, before ending the affair once he left his family.
Ms Blake, who is credited on IMDB under her stage name Syan Blake, later appeared in The Bill, Doctors and Skins, before becoming a sign language teacher.
Mr Simpon-Kent has a website for his hairdressing business called filmfashtv.yolasite.com.
In a profile about him, he says he has worked on shows for fashion houses Gianni Versace, Armani and Chanel as well as TV, magazine and film work.