Police are urging members of the public to be “vigilant” after a police community support officer (PCSO) was found dead on a woodland footpath in Kent on Tuesday (17 April).
The body of Julia James, 53, was discovered in Akholt Wood near Aylesham, and Kent Police are treating her death as murder.
Detectives are considering “all possible” motives for her murder, but no arrests have yet been made and no suspects identified.
At a press conference in Aylesham, near Canterbury, on Friday (30 April), Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards urged members of the public to be “vigilant” and “aware of their surroundings”.
He declined to rule out that Ms James, who died from blunt head trauma while out walking her dog, was killed by a stranger, someone she came across during her work, someone trying to steal her dog, or as part of a sexual assault.
Mr Richards would not comment on any potential murder weapon and also declined to say whether detectives had found signs of a struggle, but said Ms James’s body was found just “a few hundred yards from her house”.
He said: “We do not at this stage have any identified suspects; we are keeping all options open to us while we fully investigate the circumstances of this matter and try to understand fully what happened.
“We do not at this stage understand the motive.”
However, he added that there was “no evidence that any of her possessions were missing”.
What is known about the incident?
Officers were called shortly after 4pm on Tuesday (27 April) to Akholt Wood in the Aylesham Road area, where Ms James’ body was found.
The death was originally viewed as “suspicious” but Kent Police confirmed on Wednesday (28 April) afternoon that it is now being treated as murder.
Police officers were seen around the quiet cluster of homes on Wednesday afternoon as the investigation continued, and a white tent had been set up in a nearby field, with officers standing nearby.
The loss has shocked the tiny nearby hamlet of Snowdown, where Ms James is believed to have lived with her husband.
A police officer was seen standing guard outside the home where Ms James is believed to have lived in Snowdown, while another officer was seen in the garden.
Local resident John Miller, 72, told the PA news agency: “I can’t believe it’s true to be honest, everyone feels safe round here.
“(I’m) gutted, gutted for the family and whoever it is I hope they catch them and they get put away for life.”
No arrests made
No arrests have yet been made following the death of Ms James, but police are urging people with any information to come forward as they investigate.
Mr Richards said it is “vitally important” that anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday (26-27 April), who may have seen something suspicious or unusual, comes forward.
He added: “We’re particularly keen to speak to those who regularly visit the area who may have seen something out of place and those who drove by who have dashcam footage.
“We would advise people in the area to remain vigilant until the full circumstances of the death are established.”
Anyone who has any information about the incident are encouraged to contact Kent Police on 0800 0514 526, and any video footage can be submitted online.
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