Police Officer Is Arrested Over London Woman’s Disappearance

Police Officer Is Arrested Over London Woman’s Disappearance

Police Officer Is Arrested Over London Woman’s Disappearance

Police Officer Is Arrested Over London Woman’s Disappearance

LONDON — A police officer is being held on suspicion of murder in connection with the disappearance of a woman who went missing last week as she was on her way home in South London, the police said on Wednesday.

The woman, Sarah Everard, 33, left a friend’s house on the evening of March 3 and was last spotted on CCTV in the Clapham neighborhood, according to the Metropolitan Police.

Commissioner Cressida Dick said Wednesday evening that detectives investigating Ms. Everard’s disappearance had found human remains in a woodland area in Kent, in southeastern England, near where the officer was initially arrested on Tuesday evening on suspicion of kidnapping.

Ms. Dick said the police couldn’t confirm the identity of the remains, adding that it could take “considerable time.”

In the week since Ms. Everard was last seen, hundreds of officers have been involved in the investigation, the police said, searching more than 750 houses in South London, a woodland area and a property in Kent, and urging witnesses to come forward. The arrest was the most significant development in the case, the police said, but the discovery of the remains made chances to find the 33-year-old woman alive slimmer.

The officer, who is in his 40s, was first taken into custody on Tuesday evening, along with a woman in her 30s who was arrested at the same location on suspicion of assisting an offender.

The officer remained in custody on Wednesday on suspicion of murder, and for a separate allegation of indecent exposure, according to the police, and the woman also remained in custody.

The officer, who serves in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, and whose primary role was to patrol diplomatic premises, was not on duty when Ms. Everard disappeared, the police said.

“I speak on behalf of all my colleagues when I say that we are utterly appalled at this dreadful, dreadful news,” Ms. Dick said, adding that the news that a police officer had been arrested had sent “shock waves and anger through the public and through the Met.”

Ms. Everard left her friend’s home at around 9 p.m., and her journey home would have taken her about 50 minutes, the police said. She was last seen in a residential area near the park known as Clapham Common about 30 minutes after leaving her friend.

Lockdown restrictions and the closure of restaurants and bars because of the coronavirus pandemic have emptied most of London’s streets. Although city officials have acknowledged that “too many women feel unsafe when traveling, working or going out at night,” little has been done to make the streets safer during the lockdown, when walking is one of the few activities that people are allowed to do in public.

“Sarah’s disappearance feels so close to the bone, because every time women walk alone after dark, however subconsciously, we carry the fear that something awful might happen,” Marisa Bate, a freelance writer, said on Twitter.

Another woman, Jess Jones, wrote on the platform, “When people are no longer safe walking home through residential streets of South London isn’t it time for lockdown to end??”

This week, officers searched ponds in Clapham Common and cordoned off a block of apartment buildings near where Ms. Everard disappeared, British news outlets reported.

London has nearly 700,000 CCTV cameras, according to one estimate, and throughout the week the Metropolitan Police have urged residents to check their private security systems.

“We have seized a number of CCTV recordings, but we know that there are likely to be many more out there,” Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin said in a statement. “Please, even if you’re not sure, check your doorbell or CCTV footage just in case it holds a clue.”

On Wednesday evening, Ms. Dick said police patrols would be increased in the area of South London where Ms. Everard disappeared.

“Sarah’s disappearance in these awful and wicked circumstances, I know, are every family’s worst nightmare,” Ms. Dick added.




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