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Mum-of-two found dead in a bush by dog walker was ‘murdered’

·3-min read
 (Met )
(Met )

A mother of two was strangled and left in shrubbery by a killer who ambushed her as she walked home from a hospital appointment in east London, police believe.

Maria Jane Rawlings, 45, died from neck compression and possible blunt force head trauma, a post mortem revealed.

Ms Rawlings, who had two daughters, was discovered by a man out walking his dog in Little Heath, Romford at around 2pm on Tuesday, May 4.

Officers attended with colleagues from the London Ambulance Service. Ms Rawlings was from the Chelmsford area.

A post-mortem examination at Walthamstow Mortuary on Wednesday gave a preliminary cause for Ms Rawling’s death as neck compression and possible blunt force head trauma.

Her “distraught” family are aware and being supported by specialist officers as they come to terms with their loss.

Police are continuing to examine the crime scene and will remain in the area in the coming days.Ms Rawlings attended Kings Georges Hospital, in Goodmayes, Ilford on Monday evening.

She then left the hospital and made her way on foot to Barley Lane in the direction of the A12.

It is believed that whilst walking on this road, someone may have approached Ms Rawlings.

Her body was found the next day in Little Heath.

Ms Rawlings’ death comes just a week after PCSO Julia James was bludgeoned to death while she was out walking her Jack Russell Toby, in Akholt Wood, near Aylesham, Kent.

Ms James also died of blunt trauma to the head after being attacked on April 27. 

Police have released an image of Ms James wearing the same clothes that she wore when she was attackedhandout
Police have released an image of Ms James wearing the same clothes that she wore when she was attackedhandout

Detective Chief Inspector David Hillier, who is leading the investigation, said: “My team and I are working around the clock, following a number of enquiries in our work to establish what happened to Maria. Her family are understandably distraught and we are doing all we can to help them as they begin to come to terms with their loss.

“Now I am asking for the public to help us. I want to hear from anyone who knew Maria and knows about where she had been and who she had been associating with. 

“Have you seen her in the area in the company of another person? Had you recently heard or seen a disturbance or struggle in the area but did not think it significant at the time? You might have dash cam or doorbell footage that could have captured her – please think carefully and, if you can help, contact police.”

Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman, BCU Commander for Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge, said: “I understand the concerns around safety that will arise from this, particularly from women, and we have increased patrols in the area from our local policing teams. 

“Community safety remains a high priority and I urge anyone who has any concerns to speak to my officers when you see them or contact us.”

There have been no arrests; enquiries into the circumstances remain ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police via the incident room on 020 8345 3865; via 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD3551/4May.

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