Murder inquiry after woman, 80, found dead at London allotment

Haroon Siddique and agency
Police at the scene in Colindale, north-west London. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

Police have launched a murder inquiry after an 80-year-old woman was found dead at an allotment in north-west London.

The body of Lea Adri-Soejoko, 80, was discovered inside a lockup store at the site in Sheaveshill Avenue, Colindale, on Tuesday morning, the Metropolitan police said. Officers said they did not know why anyone would have targeted her.

A postmortem took place on Wednesday. Scotland Yard has not yet disclosed how she died, except to say it was “in the most tragic way possible”.

Adri-Soejoko, who lived near the allotments, was reported missing at about 1.40am on Tuesday. Officers arrived at the scene of her death 25 minutes later.

She was last seen alive at 6.30pm on Sunday, and spoke to a friend on the phone at 2.30pm on Monday, police said.

Lea Adri-Soejoko. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA

“She was due to attend a meeting in the Barnet area around gardening and good practice and she did not turn up to that meeting,” said DCI Noel McHugh, of the Met’s homicide and major crime command. “So a friend became concerned and then alerted family members.”

Neighbour Danila Catruta, 39, said she had been left scared by the murder: “Since I heard about it I keep thinking about the situation. How can people do this? I feel very sorry about what happened because no one should be treated like this.”

Adri-Soejoko was listed as secretary of the Colindale Allotment and Garden Association at the 95-plot site and neighbours said she could often be seen tending her own garden.

Window cleaner Eddie Volkovskig, 24, told the Evening Standard: “I saw police cars a few times in the road but didn’t think anything of it. Lea was very friendly and very happy.

“She was always looking after her plants and when I was growing tomatoes she would give me tips. I last saw her a couple of weeks ago.”

On the day of her disappearance Adri-Soejoko is believed to have been wearing a blue quilted jacket, grey bottoms and black boots with white spots and pink piping.

Police are yet to establish a motive for the killing. They said they were looking to account for everybody who was in the allotments between Sunday evening and Tuesday morning, amid reports homeless people have been sleeping in or around the area recently.

McHugh said: “At the moment we do not have a motive for Lea’s murder and I am appealing to the public to help us piece together her movements before her death.

“I want to trace anyone who saw Lea or spoke to her from about midday on Sunday through to when she was reported missing.

“Had anything happened in her life that we should be aware of that might provide a motive for what happened? If you have any information at all, no matter how small, please contact us.

“I am particularly keen to speak to anyone with links to these allotments, who might have visited or been in or around the area throughout Monday 27 February into the early hours of the following morning.

“An elderly woman lost her life in the most tragic way possible and was left inside a storage unit similar to a garage. If you know anything please contact us.”

He reassured residents that patrols have been increased in the area.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room on 020 8785 8099 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.