Human remains found in pond likely for ‘several weeks’

Human remains discovered in an Essex pond have likely been there for “several weeks”, police said.

The remains were found at Oakwood Pond in Harlow on New Year’s Eve after a member of the public reported a suspicious object in the water and a murder investigation was launched.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Superintendent Rob Kirby said it was “too early” to identify the person found, but officers were working “relentlessly” to establish the circumstances of the discovery.

He said: “Shortly before 2pm on Saturday we were called by a member of the public who reported a suspicious object in the water. Forensic officers have since confirmed that they are human remains.

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

“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 determined to find out what happened and who is responsible, and we will work tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice.”

Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby has urged anyone with information to come forward (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby has urged anyone with information to come forward (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Kirby declined to say what body parts were found.

Forensic tests are due to take place this week, which will determine characteristics such as age, sex and ethnicity of the victim.

He said: “It’s too early at this stage to be able to identify who the victim is, and that includes things like the victim’s gender and ethnicity. Some witnesses indicate that human remains have been lying there for some time.

When pressed on the question of whether that meant days, weeks or months, he said: “I think it currently indicates a few weeks.”

There has been a cordon around the pond since the discovery of the remains, with the Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate investigating.

Kirby said the search in the area, on Fourth Avenue, could include draining the pond while specialist officers search for “potentially crucial” evidence.

Due to the “complicated” operation of draining the pond, there will be an increased police presence in the area “over the next few days”.

Councilor Russell Perrin, leader of Harlow Council, said: “I am shocked and saddened as this terrible situation has developed on one of our ponds in the town. I know this is a time of concern for our residents and the police are working hard to determine what happened.”

He added: “There has been contact between the police and the council and our consent has been given to drain the pond as part of the investigation. We continue to support the police and it is important that they have the time they need to find out what happened.

“The police will keep us and the community informed of the progress of the investigation. Cordons around the area will remain in place in the coming days. We ask residents to continue to respect the cordons that are in place.”

Anyone with information or video footage of the incident is asked to contact Essex Police, quoting incident 582 on 31 December.

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