The 80-year-old president of a London allotment association has been found strangled in a shed hours after the group’s annual meeting.
Lea Adri-Soejoko, who was described by police as a “pillar of the community”, was found dead in a garage at the Colindale allotments, in north-west London, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Police refused to confirm reports from neighbours that Mrs Adri-Soejoko, who was also known by her maiden name of Hulselman, had been found with a rope tied around her neck.
I saw her last Friday when she was putting out the bins. My mum saw her two or three days ago. She was always pottering around in her big garden
Zak Gulle, 68, who lives close by, said he had been told that she was “strangled with a rope in a shed nearby hers, her clothes were pulled over her head”.
Mr Gulle said there had been burglaries from some of the allotments, and police said they wanted to track down homeless people who had been bedding down in the sheds on the site.
Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh said: “We’ve been told the allotments may have been used by rough sleepers at one point and we are keen to trace them too.”
Mrs Adri-Soejoko moved to Britain from Belgium in 1966. DCI McHugh said she was “very active and very well known in the area, always at her allotment. A pillar of the community. She was a mother and grandmother”.
Officers said she had been due to attend a “gardening and horticulture” meeting on Monday evening but had failed to turn up.
DCI McHugh added: “Her family became concerned and made their own enquiries before visiting the police station which led officers to the allotments where she was sadly found.
“Her family are absolutely devastated and trying to come to terms with the awful news.”
In an earlier statement, he confirmed that police did "not have a motive for Lea's murder" and said she had died in "the most tragic way possible".
He said that the 80-year-old had access to the building in which she was found, but would not confirm reports about how she died.
The officer added: “There are a number of buildings ranging from sheds and garages, it is best described as a garage, it had two wooden doors. She had access to it.
"We are not going to go into details as to how she died. "It's fairly significant to the investigation, there has been a post mortem and we know the cause of death, it is in suspicious circumstances.
"At this time we are open minded and we are trying to establish if there is any property missing.”