A murder investigation has been launched after human remains were discovered in an Essex pond on New Year’s Eve.
Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that police believe the person’s death is suspicious.
Entrances to the green wooded area surrounding the pond have been cordoned off as the murder probe is underway.
The cordon is expected to be in place for several days as detectives carry out searches of the area.
Mr Kirby said officers are still working to identify the victim and police are unsure at this stage if the human remains are linked to a missing person’s case.
He added: “We are keeping a really open mind as to how the remains ended up there.”
Mr Kirby told reporters it is “too early” to identify any characteristics like age, gender or ethnicity.
“Some witnesses have indicated that the human remains have been there for some time,” he said.
Pressed on if this meant days, weeks or months, he said: “I think the indication is several weeks certainly.”
Mr Kirby said Essex Police are hoping to receive forensic test results by the end of the week.
“We are working relentlessly to make sure those responsible are brought to justice,” he added.
The leader of Harlow Council has said he is “shocked and saddened” by the murder investigation.
Councillor Russell Perrin said: “I am shocked and saddened as this awful situation has developed within one of our pond areas in the town. I know that this is a concerning time for our residents and the police are working hard to establish what has happened.”
He added: “There has been contact between the police and the council and our permission has been given 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. Cordons around the area will remain in place over the coming days. We ask that residents continue to respect the cordons that are in place.”
He also urged anyone with information to contact Essex Police online, via 101 or through Crimestoppers.
Oakwood Pond lies next to Princess Alexandra hospital in Harlow in an area popular with dog walkers, bird spotters and anglers.