'No stone will be left unturned' to find killer of Maria Jane Rawlings

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

Authorities investigating the suspected murder of a mother-of-two who was found dead in shrubbery in Chadwell Heath have pledged to leave "no stone" unturned to hunt down who was responsible for her death.

Maria Jane Rawlings, 45, who lived in Chelmsford, was found dead in Little Heath by a man walking his dog at around 2pm on Tuesday, May 4.

The Met Police said a post-mortem examination gave the mother-of-two’s preliminary cause of death as neck compression and possible blunt force head trauma.

Officers are still examining the scene and are expected to remain in the area in the coming days.

Flowers left at Little Heath, Romford, east London, where Maria Jane Rawlings, 45, was found dead by

Flowers left at Little Heath, where Maria Jane Rawlings, 45, was found dead by a man walking his dog at around 2pm on Tuesday. The Metropolitan Police said a post-mortem examination gave the mother-of-two's preliminary cause of death as neck compression and possible blunt force head trauma. - Credit: PA

On Monday evening, Ms Rawlings attended the King George Hospital in Goodmayes, before leaving on foot to Barley Lane in the direction of the A12.

Detectives believe someone may have approached her while she was walking on that road and so far there have been no arrests.

Council leader Jas Athwal said he was "shocked and saddened by this heinous attack" and said he was working closely with the police to provide support.

"I want to reassure residents that no stone will be left unturned in tracking down the culprit and bringing them to justice.

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“Our thoughts and prayers go to Maria’s friends and family at this terrible time. I would urge anyone who has any information which may help the police with their investigation to please come forward.

"The police have already increased their presence on our streets, and as a council, we stand ready to help them in any way we can to catch the perpetrator.”

Det Ch Insp David Hillier, who is leading the investigation, said: “My team and I are working around the clock, following a number of inquiries 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.”

A bouquet of flowers and some police tape tied to a wooden post are all that mark the scene off Barley Lane, close to a busy junction with the A12.

The shrubbery is at the edge of an open area of grass in front of New City College’s Redbridge Campus and close to a care home.

Housewife Amina Ali, 35, who lives opposite, said police closed the street on Tuesday and forensic investigators were on scene.

She said: “It has been quite traumatic.

“It’s usually such a nice quiet area.

“I walk past that shrubbery every day to get to school and back.

“It was a shock for us.”

Ilford South MP Sam Tarry said news that the death was now being treated as a murder inquiry was "deeply upsetting".

He added: "I know that my constituents will be extremely concerned about this latest development and I have today sought assurances from the borough commander that the police in Ilford will do their utmost to tackle this crime by providing additional resources on the streets as part of an extensive operation to find the perpetrator of this terrible crime as quickly as possible.

“If anyone has any information, I urge them to come forward and contact the crime incident room on 0208 3453865.”

Cllr Khayer Chowdhury, cabinet member for crime, safety and community cohesion on Redbridge Council, said he was appalled at the "senseless murder".

He asked residents who are concerned to email him directly or speak to police and urged anyone with information to come forward.