Murdered PCSO last seen taking her dog for a walk was ‘kindest person’

Julia James death
Julia James death (PA Wire)
16:49pm, Thu 29 Apr 2021
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A police community support officer who has been murdered in a quiet hamlet in Kent has been described as “the kindest person I ever met”.

Detectives continue to investigate the killing of their colleague Julia James, who was reportedly last seen taking her dog for a walk and found with head injuries.

Flowers have been left for the local PCSO in nearby Aylesham, with a note from “the Guys in Blue” saying: “Your Duty is Done. Take it easy for now we will take it from here!”

Parts of Snowdown continue to be cordoned off as the investigation continues, but police have yet to make any arrests over the 53-year-old’s killing.

The hamlet, surrounded by fields, lies less than three miles from the village of Chillenden where Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter Megan were killed in a savage attack in July 1996 while walking their dogs.

Members of the public are being urged to come forward with any information as police pursue “a number of lines of inquiry”.

On Thursday, forensic specialists wearing white suits were seen working outside a tent in a nearby field while uniformed officers patrolled the area.

The field has been an early focus of the murder inquiry, with the white tent erected just 200 metres from Ms James’ home.

Ms James, whose body was found in Akholt Wood earlier this week, was last seen while out walking her dog, according to reports.

Her nephew Karl James described his aunt as “just a lovely person”.

Speaking to 5 News, he said: “Obviously it’s been a real shock. I work away, but my wife is here – heavily pregnant – and with young kids, so she’s on edge at the moment too.

“So I’ve come home and just waiting for answers – that’s the worst bit really.”

A PCSO looks at flowers and messages left in Aylesham, Kent, for PCSO Julia James (PA Wire)

A touching floral tribute left at the scene paid tribute to her, saying: “Dearest Julia RIP you made my laugh!

“The kindest person I ever met love Becki x”

Members of the public have also been laying flowers for the community support officer on the green in nearby Aylesham.

One note said: “Rest In Peace Beautiful Lady & Fly High, You Will Always Be In Our Thoughts

“Gone But You Will Never Be Forgotten”

Another note praises Ms James for her “Heart of Gold”.

A grandmother who lives nearby, who asked not to be named, told the PA news agency: “I walk through woods in our home always on my own or with my grandson and my dog and you expect to be safe, don’t you?

“I will be more vigilant, be more aware and be more careful when I go out at the moment.”

Police forensic and specialist search officers gather near the scene at Akholt Wood, close to the hamlet of Snowdown, near Aylesham, Kent, where the body of PCSO Julia James was discovered (PA Wire)

Speaking after adding her own flowers to the growing pile of floral tributes for Ms James, the woman added: “A lot of people want to show their respects to her. (It’s) very sad.”

Meanwhile, a uniformed police officer remained outside the home in Snowdown where Ms James is believed to have lived.

The murder came as a shock to a small community, with resident John Miller, 72, describing it as a “hell of a loss”.

He told the PA news agency: “I can’t believe it’s true to be honest, everyone feels safe round here.”

Mary Bossen, identified by Sky News as Ms James’ cousin, said the family are “devastated”.

She told Sky News: “It’s just so horrible, nobody knows what happened really do they?

“We all walk our dogs along there, all of us, it’s just terrible.”

Julia James death (PA Wire)

Police are still urging anyone with information to come forward as they investigate the murder of Ms James.

The death was originally viewed as “suspicious” but Kent Police confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it is being treated as murder.

Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said it was “vitally important” that anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday, who may have seen something suspicious, comes forward.

Officers are keen to speak to anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday April 26-27 who may have seen something unusual or suspicious.

They are encouraged to contact Kent Police on 0800 0514 526.

Anyone with video footage can submit it online at https://mipp.police.uk/operation/4601020121F07-PO1

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