Manhunt for ‘prowling sex attacker’ seen lurking in woods PCSO was killed in

Police investigating the murder of their colleague are probing if she was killed in a 'sexually motivated' attack after a woman claims she was flashed by a man in the area weeks before.

PCSO Julia James had worked for the police for nearly 15 years when she was reported missing from home in the village of Aylesham, near Canterbury before her body was found on a remote path.

The police worker was found on a path at the edge of a field behind her house at 4 pm in neighbouring Snowdown on April 27 with her Jack Russell, Toby, by her side.

Police are treating her death as murder and the killer is a stranger.

Kent Police confirmed it was 'an important line of enquiry' as they revealed the 53-year-old had died of 'significant head injuries.'

Deputy Chief Constable of Kent Police, Tim Smith said: "I can confirm that we have launched a murder investigation, we have hundreds of officers working on that investigation.

"I can't go into a lot of detail for perhaps very obvious reasons, but it is fair to say there are a number of different lines of inquiry, we are working very hard to identify a motive. It is right to say we have got no clear suspects at this time.

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"We have huge teams of very specialist officers working on this to try to get to the bottom of this."

There had been a 'flasher' in the village but it had not been reported. One woman told The Times: 'The victim was shocked, she didn't want to take much notice. She didn't take it further.'

The day after it was revealed that a female dog walker was confronted by a prowler in a van a mile from the crime scene.

When asked if the attack was sexually motivated, Smith told BBC Radio Kent: "'That will be an important line of enquiry, I am not able to say either way at this stage. We are keeping a very open mind about the motive."

Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke praised Ms James and urged the public to be vigilant on Twitter writing: "Julia James was a popular pillar of our community.

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"My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. Kent Police have advised local people to be vigilant. It is important to follow that advice.

"Anyone with any information should contact kent-police straight away."

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.

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