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Everything we know about murder of PCSO Julia James – nine days on since her death

PCSO Julia James was murdered more than a week ago while she was out walking her dog – and her killer remains at large.

The mum-of-two, 53, was bludgeoned over the head near Akholt Wood in Snowdown, Kent on April 27.

She had left her house in the hamlet at around 3pm to take her Jack Russell Toby for a walk after a day working from home.

The grandmother-of-one, who had worked for Kent Police since 2008, was found dead an hour later.

The force launched a probe in the immediate aftermath, with it quickly ruled that PCSO James had been murdered.

But nine days after the horror attack her killer has yet to be found – with residents being told to stay “vigilant and aware”.

The case has already taken twists and turns, with reports emerging of alleged prowlers and dognappers in the local area.

Scroll down for The Mirror’s summary of everything we know so far about the murder of PCSO James:

The crime

PCSO Julia had been working at her home in The Crescent in Snowdown, a hamlet near Aylesham, Kent on April 27.

She then left the property at around 3pm to take her pet dog for a walk – and was never seen alive again.

PCSO James’ body was found at roughly 4pm by members of the public on the edge of Akholt Wood, just outside Snowdown.

A post-mortem has ruled she died from “very significant head injuries” caused by “blunt force trauma”.

Kent Police has since said it is keen to speak to anyone who was in the area between 1pm and 4:30pm on that day.

It added that this sort of attack was “incredibly rare” and was not linked to any other probes – which makes the hunt “difficult”.

Police have also said they believe that Julia was home alone when she left to walk the dog.

The search

News of an incident in the Aylesham area first emerged late on April 27 before gathering pace the following day.

Police confirmed an off-duty PCSO had died on the second day before releasing the deceased’s name to the public – Julia James.

Officers and forensic teams then descended on Snowdown, carrying out fingertip searches of the surrounding fields.

Door-to-door enquiries were also carried out and motorists quizzed on what they might have seen.

The search has since been expanded, with police telling residents in the local area on to expect another knock on the door.

Teams are now examining hedgerows and a field around a mile away from a white forensic tent where Julia’s body was found.

Assistant chief constable (ACC) Tom Richards said on May 5 more than 700 people have been spoken to since the inquiry began.

And he added that 449 vehicles were stopped during one roadblock period alone.

The crime scene has been defined by Kent Police as an area between Pond Lane, Spinney Lane, Aylesham Road and Holt Street.

But, perhaps ominously, the force has said the search could be carrying on for “several weeks”.

It has been said that DNA evidence could also prove to be key – with Toby the Jack Russell even being examined.

“We’ve got a very considerable forensic strategy and it does include the dog,” ACC Richards has said.

An image of the clothing PCSO James was wearing on the day of her death has also been released as part of the search appeal.

She was wearing a light blue waterproof coat, blue jeans and dark coloured Wellington style brown boots, police say.

ACC Richards said: “We’re hoping that this image of Julia wearing what she wore before her death will help jog people’s memory.

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

“We want to hear from anyone who was in the area or who saw Julia.

“Any and all information is welcomed and our detectives will decide what is relevant to their investigation.”

The National Crime Agency has also joined the search in recent days.

Tributes

PCSO James’ murder sparked an outpouring of emotion in the local community, with people still laying flowers in her memory.

Husband Paul James is yet to release a named statement, although a family tribute was published by Kent Police on April 30.

It said: “There are no words to adequately describe the void left in our lives by the death of our mum.

“She was so much to so many people; a wife, mother, daughter, nanny, sister and a friend.

“Mum was fiercely loyal, she loved with her whole heart and nothing was too much trouble for the people she cared about.”

They added: “Her loss will be felt by us every moment of every day. She will be so sorely missed.

“As a family we are trying to understand how we will navigate our lives without her, it seems an impossible task.”

Tributes have also been posted on social media, including personal statements by her son Patrick Davis and daughter Bethan Coles.

Colleagues from Kent Police have also penned messages, including one officially released by the force.

And fellow PCSO Kelly Adsia, who visited the scene, said on May 1 PCSO James was a “ray of sunshine”.

“We are just completely in shock and completely numb and can’t compute it at all,” she said of the police family.

It was daughter Bethan who also spoke about a candlelit vigil being held for her mum on May 4.

She said in a Facebook post she was “so grateful for people wanting to remember” PCSO James.

Various politicians and officials have also posted messages, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Tweeting about the 7pm vigil, he said: “Tonight we remember PCSO Julia James. My thoughts are with her friends and family.

Possible motive

A motive is yet to be established and detectives say they are keeping an “open mind” – with no suspects yet identified.

ACC Richards said: “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.”

Several reports of dognapping attempts and prowlers have emerged since PCSO James’ death.

Notices were reportedly placed in a magazine and posters stuck up warning women not to walk their dogs alone after two incidents.

It has been suggested that a driver would pull up alongside dog walkers before offering them cigarettes for their pets.

There has also been allegations of men confronting women and children just a few miles from where PCSO James was killed.

Sir Roger Manwood’s School in Sandwich warned parents that a man had offered kids money for Instagram photos in Martin Mill.

The village is located just an eight-minute drive from Snowdown, and the incident is said to have happened on April 28.