Police unclear about motive behind brutal murder of dog walker near East Harling
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Police revealed they were unclear about the motive behind the brutal murder of an elderly dog walker in woodland near a Norfolk village as the killer remained on the loose last night.
However, they have increased patrols in the area in an effort to reassure the public, as the community was gripped by shock.
A murder hunt has been launched after the 83-year-old father-of-two – who has not yet been named – suffered multiple stab wounds to his neck and head in woodland near East Harling.
A member of the public raised the alarm after the body of the pensioner, who hails from the local area, was discovered in woodland near the Fiveways Junction on Saturday, around 10.45am.
MORE: Villagers living in fear after brutal murder of 83-year-old dog walker in woodland near East HarlingDetectives from the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team confirmed they are still in the early stages of the investigation and a cordon remained in place at the woodland as enquiries to establish the sequence of events leading up to the man's death continue.
Norfolk's County Policing Commander, Chief Superintendent Mike Fawcett, said: 'I fully understand that residents will be shocked and concerned that a murder with this level of brutality can happen to an elderly man going about his daily business in our county.
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'The motive remains unclear and we are appealing for people who have noticed any unusual activity in the area recently. Those who use the woodlands and footpath regularly, especially those who were there between 9am and 11am on Saturday, August 5, are urged to contact us.
'I would like to reassure the public that dedicated teams are investigating the incident whilst uniformed officers remain on scene and in the local area to provide a visible policing presence. We have also set up a mobile police station at the scene should you have further information which could assist us.'
MORE: Dog walker, 83, stabbed multiple times in neck and head in brutal murder in woodland near to East HarlingThe Home Office post-mortem examination, carried out on Sunday afternoon, concluded that the victim, who was out walking his two dogs at the time, had been 'subjected to a serious assault'.
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Police have urged the public to be careful when venturing out but insisted they were not instructing people not to go out.
Chief Superintendent Fawcett said: 'I'm not saying don't go out walking on your own. We've had this attack which is out of the ordinary in that area which has been flooded with police officers.'
But he added: 'This was a brutal murder with no motive on a married family man. We really need as much information from the public as possible to help us with this investigation.'
East Harling Parish Council vice chairman Elizabeth Mould said the village was a close-knit community and many people went to the same woodland to walk their dogs.
MORE: Police still on scene at woodland near East Harling after murder inquiry launched'It's a very popular area and people come from all over to walk their dogs there,' she said. 'I was there last Friday on my own and there are quite a few ladies who go on their own. It's very unusual and scary what's happened.'
Councillor Colin Forder said details of the attack were scarce. He added: 'I have two children and we often take the dog for a walk in the woods so it's worrying.'
Councillor Matthew Hustler said the village was 'a wonderful place to live with low crime rates'. He said: 'There has never been anything like this in my living memory. I'm sure it has made a lot of people feel less at ease.'
Ted Pheasant, who works at F L Edge Butchers in Market Street, East Harling, recalled seeing several police cars 'racing' through the village with their blue lights ablaze on Saturday.
However, he said he only found out a murder inquiry had been launched yesterday morning.
Mr Pheasant said: 'It was just a shock to find out there was a murder. I thought someone said there was an accident at the crossroads but never heard anything more about it.'
Savash Turkel, who works at Rumbles Fish Bar in the village, added: 'It's a bit of a shock for a quiet village. I've been here seven years and its the first time we've heard of a murder in East Harling.'
A worker at East Harling Post Office, who wished to remain anonymous, said: 'You don't like that sort of thing happening on your doorstep – it's worrying.'
Anyone with information should contact Norfolk Police immediately on 101, quoting Operation Graduate, visit the mobile police station or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.