LONDON—British police said on Friday that a body found in a woodland outside London was that of Sarah Everard, whose disappearance last week has sparked anger and fears among women about their safety.
Everard, 33, disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in south London on March 3 and police have arrested a serving officer on suspicion of her kidnap and murder.
Her case has led to an outpouring of personal accounts by women of their own experiences and fears of walking streets alone at night, and a campaign for action to address this.
Speaking outside the London police headquarters on Friday, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave confirmed a body found two days ago was that of the missing woman.
“I know that the public feel hurt and angry about what has happened, and those are sentiments that I share personally,” Ephgrave said. “I also recognise the wider concerns that are being raised quite rightly about the safety of women in public spaces in London and also elsewhere in the country.”
Before the remains were formally identified, Everard’s family had paid tribute to their “beautiful daughter Sarah” and appealed for help to solve “this terrible crime”.
Home Secretary (interior minister) Priti Patel said she would do all she could to protect women and girls following the outcry that has followed Everard’s disappearance.
“Every woman & girl should be free to walk our streets without the slightest fear of harassment, abuse or violence,” she said on Twitter.
However, police have been criticised by organisers of a planned “Reclaim These Streets” vigil on Saturday near to where Everard was last seen, who said officers had warned it would be unlawful under current COVID-19 restrictions.
Detectives on Thursday were given extra time to question the arrested police officer, who is in his 40s and whose job is to guard diplomatic buildings. A woman in her 30s, who media said was his partner, was released on police bail after having been detained on suspicion of assisting an offender.
The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, has also launched an investigation into the handling of the case as several days before Everard disappeared, the arrested officer had been reported over allegations of indecent exposure in a south London fast food restaurant.