Murdered PCSO Julia James died of ‘blunt trauma’ to head as police warn public to be ‘cautious’

Barney Davis
·5-min read
<p>Kent PCSO Julia James was found dead in Snowdown, in Kent</p> (Handout)

Kent PCSO Julia James was found dead in Snowdown, in Kent

(Handout)

Murdered community support officer Julia James died of “significant injuries” after receiving “blunt trauma to the head”, it has been revealed.

Police said there was no suspect and they did not know what the motive for the attack was, as they warned people “should be cautious of their surroundings”.

Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards paid tribute to Ms James at a press conference on Friday, calling her a “hugely devoted, passionate individual” who will be “missed by her colleagues”.

He told reporters that officers were “keeping all options open” including the possibility of a sexually motivated attack but said there was “no evidence of a robbery”.

Kent PCSO Julia James was found dead in Snowdown, in KentHandout
Kent PCSO Julia James was found dead in Snowdown, in KentHandout

Mr Richards said members of the public should be cautious but stressed it is being treated as an isolated incident.

He said: “This is an awful incident but it’s an incredibly rare and isolated incident not linked at this stage to any other offences.”

Ms James’s body was found in Akholt Wood, in Snowdown, Kent, earlier this week.

The 53-year-old was off-duty at the time and was reportedly last seen while out walking her dog.

Kent Police Deputy Chief Constable Tim Smith said there are hundreds of officers on the investigation into her death but that there are currently no “clear suspects”.

Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said there was no suspect and no motivePA
Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said there was no suspect and no motivePA

He told BBC Radio Kent: “We’ve got hundreds of officers working on that investigation while we try to establish exactly what happened to Julia, and more importantly who did this to Julia and why.

“I’m afraid I can’t go into a lot of detail for perhaps very obvious reasons, but it is fair to say there are a number of different lines of inquiry.

“We’re working very hard to identify a motive and we are working very hard to identify who may have committed this.

“It is right to say we don’t have any clear suspects at this time.”

He said he is “not able to say either way” if the attack was sexually motivated, adding that they are “keeping a very open mind about the motive”.

He added: “Julia died from significant head injuries.”

The death was originally viewed as “suspicious” but Kent Police confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it is being treated as murder.

PCSOs patrolling the village, near Canterbury, have told women to stay away from wooded areas and not to “veer from your normal route” when walking home, The Times reported on Friday.

A grandmother who lives nearby, who asked not to be named, said: “I walk through woods in our home always on my own or with my grandson and my dog and you expect to be safe, don’t you?

“I will be more vigilant, be more aware and be more careful when I go out at the moment.”

Colleagues left flowers for her with a note saying “Your Duty is Done. Take it easy for now we will take it from here!” from “the Guys in Blue”.

A PCSO looks at flowers and messages left in Aylesham, Kent, for PCSO Julia JamesPA
A PCSO looks at flowers and messages left in Aylesham, Kent, for PCSO Julia JamesPA

Locals also reported that another female dog walker was confronted by a prowler in a white van a fortnight before the murder.

The Sun reported the driver was distracted and the terrified woman managed to flee and call for help.

A spokesman for Kent Police responding to these claims said: “This is a live investigation and we continue to carry out enquiries to establish the circumstances.

“We will not be commenting or speculating on any individual lines of enquiry at this time.”

Parts of Snowdown continue to be cordoned off as the investigation continues, but police have yet to make any arrests over the 53-year-old’s killing.

The hamlet, surrounded by fields, lies less than three miles from the village of Chillenden where Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan were killed in a savage attack in July 1996 while walking their dogs.

A police officer stands near a forensic tent on the outskirts of Akholt Wood in Snowdown, KentPA
A police officer stands near a forensic tent on the outskirts of Akholt Wood in Snowdown, KentPA

Members of the public are being urged to come forward with any information as police pursue “a number of lines of inquiry”.

On Thursday, forensic specialists wearing white suits were seen working outside a tent in a nearby field while uniformed officers patrolled the area.

The field has been an early focus of the murder inquiry, with the white tent erected just 200 metres from Ms James’ home.

Ms James, whose body was found in Akholt Wood earlier this week, was last seen while out walking her dog, according to reports.

A view of the scene near Akholt Wood in Snowdown, Kent, where the body of PCSO Julia James was foundPA
A view of the scene near Akholt Wood in Snowdown, Kent, where the body of PCSO Julia James was foundPA

Her nephew Karl James described his aunt as “just a lovely person”.

Speaking to 5 News, he said: “Obviously it’s been a real shock. I work away, but my wife is here – heavily pregnant – and with young kids, so she’s on edge at the moment too.

“So I’ve come home and just waiting for answers – that’s the worst bit really.”

Meanwhile, a uniformed police officer remained outside the home in Snowdown where Ms James is believed to have lived.

A police care guards the home of PCSO Julia James in SnowdownPA
A police care guards the home of PCSO Julia James in SnowdownPA

The murder came as a shock to a small community, with resident John Miller, 72, describing it as a “hell of a loss”.

He told the PA news agency: “I can’t believe it’s true to be honest, everyone feels safe round here.”

Mary Bossen, identified by Sky News as Ms James’ cousin, said the family are “devastated”.

She told Sky News: “It’s just so horrible, nobody knows what happened really do they?

“We all walk our dogs along there, all of us, it’s just terrible.”

Police are still urging anyone with information to come forward as they investigate the murder of Ms James.

The death was originally viewed as “suspicious” but Kent Police confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it is being treated as murder.

Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said it was “vitally important” that anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday, who may have seen something suspicious, comes forward.

Officers are keen to speak to anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday April 26-27 who may have seen something unusual or suspicious.

They are encouraged to contact Kent Police on 0800 0514 526.

Anyone with video footage can submit it online at https://mipp.police.uk/operation/4601020121F07-PO1

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