Was victim jogging when she was killed?

By Liz HearnshawMYSTERY still surrounds the missing final hours of a murder victim whose charred and semi-naked remains were discovered at a beauty spot.

By Liz Hearnshaw

MYSTERY still surrounds the missing final hours of a murder victim whose charred and semi-naked remains were discovered at a beauty spot.

Detectives released yesterday a photograph of Dawn Walker in the hope it may jog the public's memories, as they admitted they had little idea of when and how she met her death.

Miss Walker, a printing assistant, from Fornham St Martin, near Bury St Edmunds, was found dead in a park next to the River Lark on Friday.

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Police said Miss Walker, who was unmarried and had no children, had last been seen late on February 2 and had been reported missing about six hours before her burned body was found by a dog walker.

A post-mortem examination revealed the 37-year-old had been set alight, but police have yet to confirm whether this happened before or after her body was dumped by the River Lark at Fornham Park, near Bury St Edmunds.

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One line of inquiry that detectives were pursing was whether Miss Walker, a fitness fanatic, had been out jogging when she was attacked.

Police refused to say whether Miss Walker was wearing jogging clothes when found and refused to confirm or deny reports that her body was semi-naked.

But a spokesman said detectives were keeping an open mind and the possibility that Miss Walker may have been attacked while jogging was one of a number of lines of inquiry.

Detective Superintendent Roy Lambert, who is leading Suffolk police's 30-strong murder squad, said a cause of death had yet to be established, adding more tests would be carried out.

“There were signs that the body had been set alight and the body had been moved. Whether she went there of her own accord or by some other means, it's too early to say,” he added.

But Det Supt Lambert would not be drawn on how many people he thought were involved in Miss Walker's brutal murder, or a possible motive for the crime.

“Somebody else has been involved in moving the body. I don't know at this time whether that was one person or more than one,” he said.

“I'm keeping my mind open to all possibilities at the moment. It's too early to draw any conclusions.”

Cordons remained in place yesterday around large sections of the woodland, with police vans and scenes of crimes officers coming and going throughout the day.

Det Supt Lambert said the scene would remain controlled until investigations had been completed.

“Where Dawn was found is a quite difficult area as it is used by a lot of walkers. It is quite remote, which causes us some problems,” he added.

“We've still got the scene controlled and we are still working with scenes of crime and specialist officers down there.

“It's out in the open, it's a big area - and most importantly we don't want to miss any vital evidence.”

Officers are now trying to piece together details of Miss Walker's life to create a picture of her activities and interests in the hope it may lead them to her killer.

Det Supt Lambert said she was a “fitness fanatic” who used to run, cycle and visit the gym regularly.

“We are actively talking to her family, friends and colleagues to try to find out about Dawn's lifestyle and all about her,” he added.

“This is an ongoing process and will take several days. We're talking to everybody that we think may have some relevant information which will help us get to the bottom of this terrible offence.”

Detectives said they were particularly keen to trace Miss Walker's movements between 9.30pm on February 2 - when she was last seen - and 5.10pm on Friday when her body was discovered.

“Since our appeals for information, we have had a reasonable response from the public calling in to provide information,” said Det Supt Lambert. “We will now be working to process this information and will be making follow-up inquiries to determine if any new leads have developed.

“However, we would still like to hear from anyone who has information relating to this investigation and we hope that by releasing a photograph of Dawn it will jog the memories of those people who may have seen her prior to her death.

“We are particularly keen to trace her last known movements between when she was last seen on Wednesday at 9:30pm in Fornham St Martin and when she was found on Friday.

“We are also keen to trace anyone who was walking in the Fornham Park area between these dates as they may have valuable information to assist us with our inquiries.”

Meanwhile, floral tributes continued to be placed outside Miss Walker's home in Oak Close, Fornham St Martin - about 500 yards from where her body was discovered.

A single red rose was also placed at the entrance to the woodland walk, bearing the message “In memory of a much-loved sister. We were born as sisters and will one day be reunited as sisters. Rest in peace, love Sheena and Ross and Chloe”.

Three separate bunches of flowers from colleagues at Abbeyhine, the Bury-based printing firm where Miss Walker had worked for nine years, were also added to the small bear and candle that had been left at the scene on Monday.

The close-knit community of Fornham St Martin was still reeling with shock yesterday following the announcement that police were treating Miss Walker's death as murder, with some expressing fears for their safety in the light of the incident.

Clayton Volkert, who lives only yards from the scene of the grisly discovery, said: “We are very close indeed. It is such a shock when it is on your doorstep - you read a lot about these things happening miles away, but when it is so close you really start to think about it.”

Colin Hilder, a former Independent member of the Suffolk Police Authority, added: “The worst fears of the community have been realised.

“That this lady met her end by intent rather than by an unfortunate accident is going to be very distressing for many of us.”

The Rev David Burrell, who led a morning service yesterday that closed with prayers in memory of Miss Walker, said some people had been left frightened and were struggling to come to terms with the death.

“The morning service went very quietly and very well, and someone who knew Dawn attended so there were also a few tears. It was a nice, quite, dignified little service,” he added.

“The community first of all felt the shock that somebody had been murdered in their village, then I suppose people dwell on the horrendous things that happened.

“It is a case of getting your mind round all of that. People are finding it very hard. Some are very frightened and everyone is sorry this has happened.

“Obviously our thoughts are with the family, as what they must be going through is horrendous. We said prayers for Dawn and her relatives, and just want to show our support.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police moved to reassure the community, saying there was a high-profile police presence in the area while the murder inquiry took place.

Anyone with information should contact Bury St Edmunds police on 01473 613999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Information can also be e-mailed to incident.room@suffolk.pnn.police.uk .


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