Detectives believe murdered PCSO Julia James left her home around an hour before she was found bludgeoned to death on remote country path, it emerged today.
The 53-year-old had taken her beloved Jack Russell Toby out for a walk from her home in Snowdown, Kent, when she was brutally attacked on April 27.
Police had not previously revealed what time she left the house in the quiet hamlet near Dover where she was working that afternoon, before her body was discovered at 4.08pm
But a new appeal for information leaflet now suggests Julia set off just after 3pm once she finished her shift.
It was only around 60 minutes later that members of the public then found her dead on a public bridle path on the edge of Ackholt Wood, and called the police.
Search teams today expanded their perimeter and could be seen examining hedgerows and a field around a mile away from a white forensic tent where Julia’s body was found
A large team of officers continued their search for clues today as the murder investigation rumbles on
Detectives hunting the killer of PCSO Julia James have released a picture of her in the same clothes she wore when she died
Julia, 53, had taken her beloved Jack Russell Toby out for a walk from her home in Snowdown, Kent when she was attacked on April 27
Detectives ‘do not know the motive of the attack’ or if killer was a random stranger
A number of key issues were raised at a press conference into the murder yesterday afternoon:
Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police Tom Richards said detectives investigating the murder of PCSO Julia James are still are not aware of a motive and have not made any arrests.
Speaking eight days after the incident, he told a press conference he is keeping ‘an open mind’, adding: ‘I do not know the motive of this attack. I do not know if it’s somebody she knew.
‘I do not know if it’s a stranger attack, of course that possibility is particularly frightening to local residents.’
Appeal for witnesses
He said he wants to hear from people who were in the location on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of last week.
‘We’re genuinely interested in any information. If anybody has got any concerns, any suspicions, we really want to hear about it,’ he said.
‘Most experienced investigators’ working on the case
ACC Tom Richards said the PCSO Julia James case is ‘a hugely challenging investigation’, adding: ‘Of course in many, many such investigations we have a suspect right from the outset or very, very early on.’
He said the ‘most experienced investigators’ are working on the case.
‘It’s why we’re keeping that open mind and we’re looking at every single possibility, but of course it’s why I’m appealing today for as much assistance from the public as possible.
‘I think the public are one of our most important assets in this investigation.
‘They’ve been absolutely fantastic in their support, but I do need that to continue.
‘I’m hoping the picture we’ve released today might just spark a memory in someone,’ he said.
Murder is ‘number one priority’ for force
Kent Police is treating the case of murdered PCSO Julia James as its ‘number one priority’, the force’s assistant chief constable Tom Richards has said.
Speaking at Folkestone Police Station on Wednesday afternoon, he told reporters: ‘I’m confident we’re going to put absolutely every effort into it, we’re meeting with the family, we’re giving them those reassurances, this is the number one priority for Kent Police at the moment.
‘This type of attack is incredibly rare, we’re not linking it to any other offences which makes it a particularly difficult investigation.
‘But we’ve got the very best staff working and every resource necessary dedicated to this inquiry.’
The new flyer being handed out locally reads: ‘Kent Police is keen to speak to anyone who is yet to come forward with information about the murder of PCSO Julia James.
‘Julia was found next to Ackholt Wood, near to Aylesham Road, Snowdown, at around 4pm on Tuesday 27 April 2021.
‘She had been out walking her dog having left her home in The Crescent nearby just after 3pm.’
It again urges anyone who was in the remote area on Monday or Tuesday who may have seen anything unusual or suspicious to call Kent Police.
Meanwhile, search teams today expanded their perimeter and could be seen examining hedgerows and a field around a mile away from a white forensic tent where Julia’s body was found.
One team of 24 officers all dressed in black formed a line and slowly moved through the foot-high grass with four foot sticks to scour the undergrowth in hope of unearthing clues.
Some of the specialist searchers appeared to be leading and overseeing the operation by telling others where to look – using a handheld screen for intel.
It comes after it emerged yesterday that detectives hunting the killer have tested Julia’s dog for forensic clues to try and track down her murderer.
Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards told a press conference yesterday the pedigree pet, found next to her body, had laboratory swabbing for any evidence.
He said: ‘We have got a very considerable forensic strategy as you would expect, it does include the dog. That is being staged through the laboratories. We have considered all the opportunities around Toby.’
Police also released a picture of Julia with Toby wearing the same clothes she was in before she was bludgeoned to death on a remote country footpath.
ACC Richards said detectives investigating the murder were ‘still are not aware of a motive’ and have not made any arrests.
Julia’s nephews Ryan and Dan have said their aunt’s ‘smile and humour could light up the darkest of rooms’.
They wrote in a heartbreaking tribute on a bunch of flowers left in Aylesham’s historic market square: ‘Auntie Julia. We all miss you so very much.
‘Your smile and humour could light up the darkest of rooms. Words can’t describe how much we all miss you.
‘The world is most certainly a better place for having you in it. All our love. Ryan and Dan.’
Another floral tribute had a card titled ‘with fond memories of sister-in-law’ which read: ‘Words can’t say how much we will miss you. A beautiful soul inside and out. Rest in peace. Robert and Sharon.’
Kent Police’s East Kent Task Force Team also left a bunch of flowers. Their tribute read: ‘PCSO Julia James. Thank you for your service. You are truly missed from your police family.’
It was accompanied with the #justiceforjulia hashtag which is being used on social media to help keep the murder in the public eye.
Another card read: ‘With heartfelt condolences from the women of Reclaim These Streets Deal. R.I.P Julia.’
Police are particularly interested in the area bordered in red in connection with their investigation into the murder
Julia had finished her shift and headed out from home with her Jack Russell at around 3pm – her body, with her loyal dog sat next to it, was found at 4pm on Tuesday, April 27