Murder probe launched after human remains found in Essex pond

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Police have launched a murder investigation after human remains, believed to have been there “for weeks”, were found in a pond in Essex.

Officers were called shortly before 2pm on Saturday after a member of the public reported a suspicious object in the water of Oakwood Pond in Harlow. Specialist forensic officers have since confirmed they are human remains.

Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby, from Essex Police, told a press conference on Tuesday that it was “too early” to establish the identity of the person found, but officers were working “relentlessly” to establish the circumstances around the discovery.

He said: “Due to the circumstances in which these remains were found, we believe the person’s death is suspicious, and are treating as murder. Our investigation is in the early stages and we have a large team of dedicated officers working around the clock on it.

“This person is someone’s loved one, someone’s family member, and they will have questions about how and why they were killed. We are committed to finding out what happened, and who is responsible, and will work relentlessly to bring those responsible to justice.”

Mr Kirby would not say what body parts had been found but said forensic tests to determine the age, gender and ethnicity of the victim would take place this week.

He said witnesses indicated that they believed the remains had been there for some time, adding: “I think the indication is several weeks, currently.”

Police have cordoned off entrances to the wooded area surrounding area pond, with access expected to be restricted for several days as they carry out searches, including draining a pond.

Detective Chief Inspector Antony Alcock said: “It’s the really early stages of this investigation and we are working to determine what has happened.

“I understand that this is concerning news for local residents and our officers are likely to remain in the area for the next few days to continue enquiries.

“We ask that the public respect the cordons in place and we will be updating the public as the investigation develops.”

Councillor Russell Perrin, leader of Harlow Council, said he was “shocked and saddened” at the news.

“I know that this is a concerning time for our residents and the police are working hard to establish what has happened,” he said.

He said the council had given permission for the pond to be drained as part of the investigation.

“We continue to support the police and it is important that they are given as much time as they need to find out what has happened. The police will be keeping us and the community updated on their investigation,” he said.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Essex Police online, via 101 or through Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.