Human remains found in an Essex pond on New Year’s Eve belong to local man Phillip Lewis, police have confirmed.
The man’s remains were found by a member of the public in Oakwood Pond, Harlow, just before 2pm on December 31, prompting a murder investigation. As part of the police probe, the pond is being drained and nearby areas searched for evidence.
On Wednesday two men were arrested. A 52 year-old has been arrested on suspicion of murder, while a 23 year-old has been arrested on suspicion conspiracy to commit murder.
They are both in custody.
Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby, Head of Major Crime, said Phillip lived in Harlow for many years and “had a wide circle of friends”.
“I want to extend my condolences to Phil’s friends and family and re-iterate my commitment to them that we will work relentlessly to bring those responsible for his murder to justice,” he said on Thursday.
“This has been a fast-paced investigation and we have worked quickly to make arrests, but our work does not stop there.
“Specialist officers are continuing to search the area around the pond and work to drain it is ongoing. This is really important to identify potentially vital evidence.
“A team of dedicated specialist detectives are continuing to work around the clock give Phil’s friends and families the answers they need about what happened to him and why.”
Det Supt Kirby added that the investigation has caused “shock and concern” to the community, but there is no ongoing risk.
“You will continue to see a visible police presence in the area and if you have any information or concerns please come and speak to one of our officers,” he added.
“In particular, we need people living in the area around the pond to check their CCTV and doorbell footage going back to the beginning of November.
“We also want anyone who came into contact with Phil since November 1, and any friends or acquaintances, to come forward, and anyone who regularly visits the pond and the surrounding area who has seen anything suspicious in the last two months.
“Any information you have, no matter how insignificant you believe it is, could be vital for our investigation”.
Anyone with CCTV, dash cam or other footage can submit a report online or by using our Live Chat service. A Major Incident Public Portal has also been set up as a way for the public to provide information.
A dedicated phone line has been set up specifically for this investigation and can be reached on 0800 051 4526.
Reports can be made anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers, by visiting their website or by calling 0800 555 111, quoting incident 582 of 31 December when providing any information.