A body found hidden in woodland in Kent has been identified as that of 33-year-old Sarah Everard.
Detectives confirmed the long-feared news shortly before 2pm today (Friday).
Speaking to reporters outside Scotland Yard, assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “As you know, on Wednesday evening detectives investigating the disappearance of Sarah Everard discovered a body secreted in woodland in Kent.
“The body has now been recovered and formal identification procedure has now been undertaken.
“I can now confirm that it is the body of Sarah Everard.”
Mr Ephgrave said that Sarah Everard’s family, who come from York, had been told this “most distressing news”.
He said his “thoughts and prayers, and those of the entire organisation” remain with Sarah Everard’s family “at this awful time”.
“Specialist officers remain in constant contact with Sarah’s family, and will continue to support them throughout the investigation and beyond.
“That investigation continues at a pace and we have hundreds of officers working round the clock to establish the full circumstances of Sarah’s disappearance, and her murder.”
‘Hurt and angry’
A serving police officer in his 40s remains in custody, and is being questioned on suspicion of the kidnap and murder of Sarah, 33, who was a former pupil at Fulford School.
Detectives have been granted more time to question him.
Assistant Commissioner Ephgrave added: “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.
“I also recognise 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.
“I want to say now that this organisation, and the men and women in it, remain committed to protecting Londoners wherever they are in this city.
“And that commitment is undiminished by these events and if anything that commitment is strengthened by these tragic circumstances.”
Timeline of events
Here is a timeline of events in this terrible story.
March 3: Sarah Everard goes missing after leaving a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, around 9pm.
March 6: Metropolitan Police raise the alarm over Ms Everard’s disappearance, saying it was “totally out of character” for her not to be in contact with family and friends. Police release a CCTV image of her, saying she was thought to have walked through Clapham Common after leaving her friend’s flat, heading towards her home in Brixton, a journey which should have taken around 50 minutes. YorkMix reveals that she is originally from York, and went to Fulford School.
March 7: Police release footage taken from a private doorbell-type camera showing Ms Everard was walking alone along the A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill, just south of Brixton. Police say it is unclear whether or not she reached her house. She was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern and turquoise and orange trainers, and was thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat. Scotland Yard says the investigation is being led by its Specialist Crime Command because of the “complex nature” of the probe, which combines searches with house-to-house inquiries.
March 8: Scotland Yard says it remains “open minded as to all possibilities” over Ms Everard’s disappearance, while confirming a missing persons investigation. Specialist officers are drafted in from across the Metropolitan Police force. Police say they have received more than 120 calls from the public on the case, and ask anyone who may have relevant dashcam or other footage to come forward.
March 9: Police use sniffer dogs to search gardens in streets around the search site near Ms Everard’s envisaged route home and in the nearby Oaklands Estate. Officers also search a pond in Clapham Common and drains along the A205. Police also release fresh images of Ms Everard – wearing the coat in which she disappeared – as they appeal for the public’s help. Later in the day, the Met sets up a cordon around the Poynders Court housing complex on Poynders Road as part of the search, with forensics officers seen examining the area.
11.59pm, March 9: The Met tweets that it has arrested a police officer at an address in Kent in connection with Ms Everard’s disappearance. Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave says the fact the man is a serving police officer “is both shocking and deeply disturbing”. The Met says a woman has also been arrested at the same location on suspicion of assisting an offender. The man and the woman are taken into custody. Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin says the force is still “doing everything we can to find Sarah”.
9am, March 10: Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave tells journalists outside Scotland Yard that investigators really hope Ms Everard is still alive. In an unusual step, Mr Ephgrave refuses to reveal what the officer has been arrested for, and will not reveal whether the suspect is known to Ms Everard.
10.30am, March 10: Detectives investigating the disappearance search a home and woodland at two locations in Kent – one on land near Ashford and the other at a property in Deal. A tent was erected at the front of a house in Freemens Way in Deal, and multiple cars were taken away by investigators. A neighbour tells the PA news agency a police officer lives at the address with his wife and two children.
3pm, March 10: The Met reveals the suspect is a diplomatic protection officer in his 40s and that he is being question over suspected kidnap and murder. It says he is also being questioned over a separate allegation of indecent exposure. The force says the detained man is a member of Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command – the squad responsible for guarding the Parliamentary estate including Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster, as well as foreign embassies in London. The force said that the officer’s main job was uniformed patrol of diplomatic premises, but would not specify where he had worked.
8.17pm: Met Commissioner Cressida Dick announces that what appear to be human remains have been found in woodland in Ashford, Kent. Ms Dick says that the force is not able to confirm an identity, adding this could take “considerable time”. Ms Dick says hundreds of officers and other police staff continue to work “around the clock” on the investigation.
March 11: Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is “shocked and deeply saddened” by the investigation, adding “we must work fast to find all the answers to this horrifying crime”.
Police later confirm the suspect was treated in hospital for a head injury sustained while in custody, before being returned to a police station.
Ms Everard’s family release a statement paying tribute to her as a “shining example to us all”, adding that she “brought so much joy to our lives”.
The Met reveals an extension to the suspect’s detention was granted by a magistrates’ court, while the woman arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender is released on bail to return to a police station on a date in mid-April.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) says it has launched an investigation into the Met’s response to a report of indecent exposure following referrals linked to the arrest of the suspect.
The police watchdog says its independent probe follows a “conduct referral” from the force in relation to two officers, and will look at the Met’s actions after it received a report on February 28 that “a man had exposed himself at a fast food restaurant in south London”.
Organisers of a vigil for Ms Everard say they are seeking legal action against the Met after claiming the force reversed its position on allowing the event planned for March 13 to go ahead.
March 12: It is confirmed that the body found in woodland in Kent is that of Sarah Everard.