Dog belonging to murdered PSCO Julia James could hold clue to identity of her killer

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Julia James was found with her Jack Russell, Toby, by her side. (Police)
A picture of Julia James, and her dog, in the clothing she was wearing on 27 April (Kent Police/SWNS)

A dog belonging to a murdered police community support officer (PSCO) could provide crucial DNA evidence, police have said.

Julia James, 53, was found on the edge of a wood in Snowdown near Aylesham, Kent, with fatal blunt force injuries on 27 April.

She was last seen leaving her house nearby to take her Jack Russell, Toby, for a walk, after working from home alone.

Members of the public found James bludgeoned to death on the bridle way near Ackholt Wood at about 4pm with her beloved dog by her side.

On Wednesday, Kent Police's Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards confirmed forensic officers had tested the dog for any DNA evidence.

He said: "We are building a large forensic picture and it does include the dog.

“It is being carried out, we have considered all options around Toby."

Watch: New image released of murdered PCSO

Police officers continue their search of fields close to the hamlet of Snowdown, near Aylesham, East Kent, where the body of PCSO Julia James was discovered on Tuesday April 27. Kent Police launched a murder enquiry following the discovery of the 53-year-old community support officer's body. Picture date: Monday May 3, 2021. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Police officers continue their search of fields close to Snowdown, near Aylesham. (Getty)
AYLESHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 02: Police forensic tape near Ackholt Wood on May 2, 2021 in Snowdon, near Aylesham, England. The body of PCSO Julia James, 53, was discovered in the area on Tuesday afternoon. Her Jack Russell dog, Toby, was waiting by her side. So far police have no motive or suspects for her death. She was not in uniform when she was killed. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
Police forensic tape near Ackholt Wood. (Getty)

Detectives also released a picture of James wearing the clothes she was last seen in.

They issued an image of her walking her Jack Russell wearing a light blue waterproof coat, blue jeans and dark coloured Wellington style brown boots.

These are the same clothing, apart from the gloves, that she wore on 27 April, but police added the picture was not taken on that day.

She had been working at home the day she died, before taking a walk towards Akholt Wood in the Aylesham Road area of Snowdown.

Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate also released a map of part of the crime scene which they are keen to receive more information about, showing the track where her body was found.

ACC Richards said he does not know if James was killed by someone she knew or by a stranger.

He said: "I'm keeping an open mind, I do not know the motive for the attack, I don't know if it's somebody she knew or if it's a stranger attack, which I know will concern residents.

"I don't know therefore if it's someone regularly in the area. We are interested in any information about it.”

He added: "We want to hear from people who think they saw her walking Toby on that day and we also want to speak to people who were in the area that afternoon.

"Perhaps you were going for a run, walking your own dog, driving through or farming your land.”

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DOVER, ENGLAND - MAY 02: Police officers walk near floral tributes for PCSO Julia James on May 2, 2021 in Aylesham, England.The body of PCSO Julia James, 53, was discovered in the village of Snowdown, near Dover, on Tuesday afternoon. Her Jack Russell dog, Toby, was waiting by her side. So far police have no motive or suspects for her death. She was not in uniform when she was killed. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
Police officers walk near floral tributes for PCSO Julia James. (Getty)
DOVER, ENGLAND - MAY 02: Floral tributes laid underneath a road sign for PCSO Julia James on May 2, 2021 in Aylesham, England.The body of PCSO Julia James, 53, was discovered in the village of Snowdown, near Dover, on Tuesday afternoon. Her Jack Russell dog, Toby, was waiting by her side. So far police have no motive or suspects for her death. She was not in uniform when she was killed. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
Floral tributes laid underneath a road sign. (Getty)

ACC Richards also said Kent Police had received "hundreds" of CCTV and dashcam footage items in their appeal for information.

On Tuesday, police carried out road checks to speak to motorists in the area and also made house to house inquiries.

Police said that there were no identified suspects in the days after the murder, nor a clear motive for the brutal attack that a stranger could have carried out.

Detectives are also investigating if Mrs James's work with victims of domestic violence could be a motive for her murder.

A post-mortem examination confirmed she had died of serious head injuries.

Watch: Julia James murder - Uncle of killed PCSO appeals for help finding her killer

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