U.K. police identify body of slain woman in a case that’s shocked a nation
By Karla Adam,
LONDON — British police said Friday that a body found in the woods has been identified as that of Sarah Everard, a young woman whose killing has sent shock waves through the nation.
Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was last seen at 9:30 p.m. on March 3, walking home from a friend’s house in south London. Her disappearance sparked a national outcry in Britain over the harassment and abuse of women.
Adding to the shock, a Metropolitan Police officer in his 40s has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murder in the case. He has previously had posts at Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster.
The officer was arrested Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police said. He was taken to a hospital Thursday after suffering a head injury, which he sustained while alone in his cell, police said. He has since been returned to a police station and is being held for further questioning.
The police officer is also accused of exposing himself in a restaurant in south London three days before Everard went missing.
“I know that the public feel hurt and angry about what has happened, and those are sentiments that I share personally, and I know my colleagues here at Scotland Yard and across the Met share as well,” said Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave, speaking outside Scotland Yard on Friday. He confirmed that a body found in the woods near Ashford, a town about 60 miles southeast of London, was that of Everard.
He added: “I also recognize the wider concerns that have been raised, quite rightly, about the safety of women in public spaces in London and also elsewhere in the country.”
The case as touched a chord with women across the country, with many demanding change. In the days after Everard’s disappearance, women have taken to social media to share their own experiences and fears about their personal safety and walking alone.
Caitlin Moran, an author and journalist, tweeted: “Being a woman: my “outside” day finishes at sundown. If I haven’t taken the dog for a walk/jogged by then, I can’t. In the winter, it often means the choice between exercise and work. Today, I had to stop work at 4 to exercise. My husband worked until 6, and is now off for a run.”
Writing in the Guardian, columnist Gaby Hinsliff said: “When she went missing, any woman who has ever walked home alone at night felt that grim, instinctive sense of recognition. Footsteps on a dark street. Keys gripped between your fingers.”
Flowers with a card lie at the entrance to Great Chart Golf & Leisure Country Club in Ashford, England, on Friday as the investigation into the disappearance of Sarah Everard continues.
Many women have questioned why the onus should be on them, and suggested that men could appear less intimidating if they cross the road or back off if they are walking behind a woman late at night.
Nimco Ali, an adviser to the British government on violence against women and girls, told LBC Radio that men can change the way they act in public.
“I can’t sit there and try to assess which guy is the good guy and which one is not — it’s for you guys to change your behavior and the way you act in public spaces,” Ali said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the case.
Everard’s family, in a statement issued Thursday, described her as “bright and beautiful — a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humor.”
Organizers of a planned, socially distanced vigil on London’s Clapham Common went to court Friday after they said that police had warned them that the gathering would be unlawful. England is still under a national lockdown.
In local neighborhood WhatsApp groups, many people said that they were planning to put candles outside their homes in tribute.