TRIBUTES have been paid to a mother stabbed repeatedly in the chest and murdered while working as a debt collector.

Tina Cantello, 49, was on her way to the last of three door-to-door collection jobs when she disappeared on Friday evening.

Her body was found in a house about two miles from where her family believe she was last seen and a mile from her mobile phone which was recovered from Durham Road, Laindon.

A post-mortem examination yesterday revealed she died from multiple stab wounds to the chest.

A 38-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.

Essex Police said her body was discovered at a house in Derby Close, Langdon Hills, at about 6pm on Saturday.

Friends and family have paid tribute to Ms Cantello, a mum-of-three who worked as a debt collector for Provident.

Son Sam Malone said on Facebook: “I love you Mum. Thank you everyone for your support. It has helped massively.”

Suzanne Amor, a carer from Basildon, added: “Your mum was one-in-a-million and she will be missed by all who knew her and loved her. I knew your mum through her work and saw you, Aimee and Max grow into the amazing people you are.”

Carl Wallace, 38, from Basildon, lived with Tina when he was a child and in her foster care.

He said: “She made me feel so welcome and comfortable as part of her family.

“She was what you call a real mum - she praised you when you had done well but also spoke to you and guided you when you had done wrong.

“She was always there to listen and guide you and she even took my brother in when he had nowhere to stay - she did that for me as he would if been on the streets otherwise.

“The house was always filled with fun, love and laughter and I am going to miss her dearly. She met my daughter a few times and I had kept in touch but would have liked to see her more.”

Jade Byrne, communications manager for Provident, said: “The Essex police have informed us of the death of one of our colleagues, Tina Cantello. The police have launched an investigation and a man has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

"We are all deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic incident. Our immediate concern at this time is for the welfare of Tina’s family, to whom we offer our sincere condolences.

"Tina was a much loved and well respected colleague, who had been with Provident for over twenty-five years.  She will be sorely missed by us and her customers, many of who regard her as part of the family. 

"The Company is fully supporting the police investigation."

Yesterday, detectives were searching the home of Geoffrey Hutton, a former civil servant where Tina’s body was found.

According to his LinkedIn profile, the 38-year-old divorcee and father-of-two worked at the Ministry of Justice for almost ten years, leaving in 2010.

On his profile, he describes himself as a “project manager, speech-writer and aspiring playwright.”

On his Facebook profile, Mr Hutton says he currently works as finance officer at Ford Motor Company, although a spokesman for the car-maker refused to confirm this.

Outside the house in Basildon where the murder investigation continued, several bunches of flowers had been left. Attached to one the words: “Our hearts are broken, so sorry for your loss.”