Murder probe launched after mother-of-two’s body found in Chadwell Heath

Maria Jane Rawlings  was aged 45 and a mother of two daughters living in the Chelmsford area

Maria Jane Rawlings was aged 45 and a mother-of-two daughters living in the Chelmsford area - Credit: Met Police

A woman whose body was found in shrubbery in Chadwell Heath earlier this week is believed to have been murdered.

The body is now confirmed to be Maria Jane Rawlings, a 45-year-old mother-of-two daughters living in the Chelmsford area.

Emergency services found Maria's body after they called around 2pm on Tuesday (May 4) by a man who was out walking his dog in Little Heath.

A post-mortem examination at Walthamstow Mortuary on Wednesday (May 5) gave a preliminary cause for Maria's death as neck compression and possible blunt force head trauma.

Maria's family is aware and being supported by specialist officers; they have asked that their privacy is respected as they begin to come to terms with their loss.

Officers are continuing to examine the crime scene and will remain in the area in the coming days.

Maria attended King George Hospital in Goodmayes on the evening of Monday, May 3. She then left the hospital and made her way on foot to Barley Lane in the direction of the A12.

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It is believed that while walking on this road, someone may have approached Maria.

Det Ch Insp David Hillier, leading the investigation, said: "My team and I are working around the clock following a number of enquiries in our work to establish what happened to Maria.

"Her family are understandably distraught and we are doing all we can to help them as they begin to come to terms with their loss.

"Now I am asking for the public to help us. I want to hear from anyone who knew Maria and knows about where she had been and who she had been associating with.

"Have you seen her in the area in the company of another person? Had you recently heard or seen a disturbance or struggle in the area but did not think it significant at the time?

"You might have dashcam or doorbell footage that could have captured her – please think carefully and, if you can help, contact police.”

East Area commander, Ch Supt Stephen Clayman, said: “I understand the concerns around safety that will arise from this, particularly from women, and we have increased patrols in the area from our local policing teams.

"Community safety remains a high priority and I urge anyone who has any concerns to speak to my officers when you see them or contact us.”

There have been no arrests and enquiries into the circumstances remain ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police via the incident room on 020 8345 3865; via 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD3551/4May.