Murder investigation launched in Romford


A woman whose body was found in shrubbery in Romford is believed to have been murdered, police have said.

Homicide detectives are investigating after the body was reported around 14:00hrs on Tuesday, 4 May by a man who was out walking his dog in Little Heath, Romford.

Officers attended with colleagues from the London Ambulance Service and found the body of the deceased, who is now confirmed to be Maria Jane Rawlings. Maria was aged 45 and a mother of two daughters. She lived in the Chelmsford area.

A post-mortem examination at Walthamstow Mortuary on Wednesday, 5 May, gave a preliminary cause for Maria’s death as neck compression and possible blunt force head trauma.

Maria’s family are aware and are being supported by specialist officers; they have asked that their privacy is respected as they begin to come to terms with their loss. 

Officers are continuing to examine the crime scene and will remain in the area in the coming days. Any members of the public who believe that they have information that could assist police are asked to approach those officers, or to call the incident room on 020 8345 3865.

Maria attended Kings Georges Hospital in Goodmayes, Ilford on the evening of Monday, 3 May. 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 Maria.

Her body was found the next day in Little Heath, Romford.

Detective Chief Inspector David Hillier is leading the investigation. He 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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Maria Jane Rawlings.

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