Human remains discovered in a pond in Essex were likely to have been there for “several weeks”, police have said.
The remains were found in Oakwood Pond, Harlow, on New Year’s Eve after a member of the public reported a suspicious object in the water, and a murder investigation has now been launched.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby said it was “too early” to establish the identity of the person found, but that officers were working “relentlessly” to establish the circumstances around the discovery.
He said: “We were called shortly before 2pm, on Saturday, by a member of the public who reported a suspicious object in the water. Forensic officers have since confirmed these to be human remains.
“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 declined to disclose what body parts had been found.
Forensic tests are due to take place this week, which will determine characteristics such as the age, gender and ethnicity of the victim.
He said: “At this stage, it is too early to be able to identify who the victim is, and that includes things such as the sex and ethnicity of the victim. Some witnesses have indicated that the human remains have been there for some time.”
Pressed on if this meant days, weeks or months, he said: “I think the indication is several weeks, currently.”
A cordon has been in place around the pond since the remains were found, with the investigation being led by Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate.
Searches around the area, in Fourth Avenue, may include draining a pond as specialist officers search for “potentially crucial” evidence, Mr Kirby said.
There will be an increased police presence in the area “for several days to come” due to the “complex” operation of draining the pond.
Councillor Russell Perrin, leader of Harlow Council, 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.”
Anyone with information or footage relating to the incident is urged to contact Essex Police, quoting incident 582 of December 31.