Kent Police Deputy Chief Constable Tim Smith has said 53-year-old community support officer Julia James died from “significant” head injuries.
James’ body was discovered in Akholt Wood near Aylesham, with Kent Police since confirming they are now treating her death as murder, and officers are appealing for information about the incident
Speaking to BBC Radio Kent, Smith said: “We just don’t know why this has happened. We are keeping a very open mind about the motive.”
He said he is “not able to say either way” if the attack was sexually motivated.
Smith also said detectives are yet to identify any “clear” suspects in the investigation into the killing of the police community support officer.
“We’ve got hundreds of officers working on that investigation while we try to establish exactly what happened to Julia, and more importantly who did this to Julia and why.”
“I’m afraid I can’t go into a lot of detail for perhaps very obvious reasons, but it is fair to say there are a number of different lines of inquiry. It is right to say we don’t have any clear suspects at this time.”
‘Not linked to any other offences’
Kent Police assistant chief constable Tom Richards said PCSO Julia James was not on duty and was not in uniform at the time of her death. She had been walking her dog, which was found unharmed at the scene when police arrived.
Speaking at a press conference in Aylesham, he confirmed that James had died from blunt trauma to the head but would not comment on any potential murder weapon.
Richards said members of the public should be cautious but stressed it is being treated as an isolated incident.
Answering questions from reporters, he said: “This is an awful incident but it’s an incredibly rare and isolated incident not linked at this stage to any other offences. People should be cautious and aware of their surrounding circumstances and situation.”
When asked, he could not rule out any motive, including the killer being someone she came across during her work, a stranger attack, sexual assault or a someone trying to steal her dog.
But he did say there was “no evidence that any of her possessions were missing”.
Asked if changes had been made to policing following the attack, assistant chief constable Tom Richards said: “Policing at times can be dangerous, you can’t remove all risks from policing but we are carrying out policing in this county in the normal way.”
On the impact of the death on those who worked with her, he said: “Her colleagues are very shocked, very upset”, and are receiving support.
Officers were called shortly after 4pm on Tuesday 27 April to Akholt Wood in the Aylesham Road area, where 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 James is believed to have lived with her husband.
A police officer was seen standing guard outside the home where James is believed to have lived, while another officer was seen in the garden.
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