Detectives are investigating “all possible motives” for the killing of a police community support officer who was found dead after walking her dog in a quiet hamlet in Kent.
Julia James, 53, was off-duty and was not in uniform at the time of her death, and her body was later found in Akholt Wood.
Speaking at a press conference in Aylesham, near Canterbury, Kent Police assistant chief constable Tom Richards urged people to be “aware of their surroundings” as he declined to rule out she was killed by a stranger.
Mr Richards confirmed Ms James had been walking her dog, which was found unharmed at the scene when police arrived.
Mr Richards said that Ms James had died from blunt trauma to the head but would not comment on any potential murder weapon.
He also declined to say whether detectives had found signs of a struggle.
He said her body was found just “a few hundred yards from her house”.
When asked he could not rule out any motive, including the killer being someone she came across during her work, a stranger attack, sexual assault or a someone trying to steal her dog.
He told reporters: “We do not at this stage have any identified suspects, we are keeping all options open to us while we fully investigate the circumstances of this matter and try to understand fully what happened.
“We do not at this stage understand the motive.”
But he did say there was “no evidence that any of her possessions were missing”.
In a warning to locals, he said: “People should be cautious and aware of their surrounding circumstances and situation.”
Ms James was a “hugely devoted, passionate” person who was “completely committed to serving the people of Kent”, where she had recently worked with victims of domestic violence, Mr Richards said.
Asked if changes had been made to policing following the attack, Mr Richards responded: “Policing at times can be dangerous, you can’t remove all risks from policing but we are carrying out policing in this county in the normal way.”
On the impact of the death on those who worked with her, he said her colleagues were “very shocked, very upset”, and were receiving support.
Ms James’s nephew Karl James previously told 5 News his aunt was “just a lovely person” and said her death has been “a real shock”.
Floral tributes have been left for Ms James in nearby Aylesham.