A tragic mother-and-daughter double-drowning case with a New Zealand link took a bizarre turn yesterday when it emerged the mother had forecast "a big story in the newspapers".

Just days after flying out of New Zealand, the bodies of Jude Richmond and her daughter Millie Whitehead-Richmond, aged 9, who had cerebral palsy, were found in a lake next to their home in England.

As the tragedy unfolded, Jude Richmond's husband Nick was trapped in New Zealand getting his passport renewed. It had expired, forcing him to stay behind while his family returned to their Gloucestershire home.

Mother and daughter returned from New Zealand on March 12 and were last seen on March 15. Police divers recovered their bodies from a lake less than 50m from their home in the Cotswolds village of South Cerney on March 18. Officers broke the news to Nick Richmond when he got off the plane at Heathrow.

Nick (45) said in a statement: "They were everything to me. It feels like my insides have been ripped out." He also confirmed the couple were having relationship problems but had expected them to be resolved. Jude Richmond had worked as a florist, supplying rock stars and royalty. She sold her shop just before Christmas to coincide with the family trip to New Zealand, where the family were planning to move.

The investigation into the deaths continued yesterday as it emerged that Jude Richmond had been seen with two mystery men in the days before she and her daughter disappeared.

A man with blond spiky hair was seen walking with Jude Richmond on Saturday. Both Jude Richmond and Millie were seen with a dark-haired man three hours before they went missing.

The Sun newspaper reported last night that Jude Richmond sent a string of bizarre text messages the day before she went missing.

In the text messages - sent to a complete stranger - she said she had been told her daughter did not actually have a physical handicap. She also claimed that Millie had recently developed autism and that she could "cocoon her in love" in the United States, leading to a cure.

Another text said: "Keep your eyes peeled for a big story in the newspapers to prove once and for all the Government are lying to us."

The paper also claimed that Jude Richmond believed her daughter had been "poisoned" through a vaccine, and that Scientology held the cure.

Pam Keevil, head teacher of Cirencester Junior School, which Millie attended before leaving for New Zealand, said had been expecting the girl to return to classes after Easter. Keevil said the family were in the north of the North Island and were investigating buying a business here.

Millie had suffered very badly from coughs, colds and chest infections in England and the balmy weather of a New Zealand summer was improving her health. "We had an email from her telling us how she was going swimming every day and really enjoying herself. She added that she had not had a single day sick since she had been in New Zealand."

A memorial service for the mother and daughter will be held at South Cerney's All Hallows Church on Sunday evening (tomorrow morning NZ time). Reverend David Bower, who knew Jude well as she often provided flowers for the church, said the community was devastated. "The whole village is in shock. Jude was absolutely full of energy and she was also very sensitive and caring. Millie was a lovely little girl who lived life to the full. They were lovely people."