Officers were called at 5.32pm on Saturday after the body of Sabina Nessa lay undiscovered for almost 24 hours in Cator Park, Greenwich, London
Primary school teacher Sabina Nessa, 28, was found dead in a south east London park on Saturday evening.
Her body found near the OneSpace community centre in Cator Park, Kidbrooke Village in Greenwich – with police believing she was killed at around 8:30pm the night before.
Officers were called at 5.32pm after her body lay undiscovered for almost 24 hours in meadow-land.
Police are treating the death as murder but an initial post-mortem investigation did not reveal a conclusive cause of death.
A large police cordon was put in place and forensic tens erected at the scene as officers combed the area for evidence.
The Kidbrooke area is largely made up of new-build blocks of flats, surrounding areas of landscaped greenery and parks featuring children’s playgrounds.
Discovery of body
Sabina was discovered under a pile of leaves in a busy London park by a woman searching for her lost necklace.
She called a nearby dog walker to come and help after the shocking find, before police were called to the scene.
Officers fear she may have been attacked by a stranger.
The grandmother of the woman searching for her necklace said: “I gave my granddaughter a designer gold necklace for passing her biochemistry exam.
“She was going out to a party, but then came back half an hour later and said she had lost her necklace. So she went out to look for it in the park with her brother and sister.
“I didn’t understand what was going on, but they told me a dog walker had called over and asked to call the police.”
Sabina, 28, was one of four sisters and taught as a primary school teacher at Rushey Green primary school, in Catford, just a few miles from where she was discovered.
She taught Year 1 students and had worked for just over a year at the school.
Before her first teaching job, she had studied sociology at Greenwich University before undergoing a postgraduate degree in teaching at University of Bedfordshire.
Sabina also had a qualification from Cambridge to teach English as a foreign language and had helped non-English speakers develop their language skills.
She regularly visited her family home in Sandy, Bedfordshire.
Sabina Nessa: Cousin says ‘murdered’ teacher was killed just minutes from home
The victim’s cousin Zubel Ahmed has said that her family are “inconsolable” as they try to come to terms with what has happened.
He told ITV London at the scene: “She’s been attacked on the way home and she was five minutes away from here walking home her usual route that she’s been taking for the last few weeks where she’s been working from school to home, going back and forth.
“She was due to go and see her family at the weekend and even that… she couldn’t even do that one last time unfortunately.”
Mr Ahmed added: “She was the sweetest person, sweetest girl I don’t understand how someone can do this it’s a big loss to our family.
“We went and saw her parents, they are inconsolable. It’s the worst way for someone to go.
“The shock has not sunk in. She was a beautiful, kind, caring soul.
“I express my deepest sympathies for her sisters – Mum and dad are absolutely devastated.
“Nothing is making sense to us, why was she taken from us we just don’t know.”
Headteacher Lisa Williams reportedly said: “We are devastated by Sabina’s tragic death.
“She was a brilliant teacher; she was kind, caring and absolutely dedicated to her pupils. She had so much life ahead of her and so much more to give and her loss is desperately sad.
“As a school we are supporting each other through this very difficult time, and we will be providing specialist support to those who need it.”
Her father, a chef, is understood to have visited neighbours to tell them the tragic news after her body was found.
One neighbour told the Evening Standard: “He looked in total shock, like a broken man.
“He said ‘my daughter has been killed’ – He looked terrible as if the blood had been drained from him.
“We have seen her grow up. She lived in London but regularly came back. They are a close family.”
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A man, aged in his 40s, arrested on suspicion of murder has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Detectives have appealed for information from anyone who saw anything suspicious on Friday evening in Cator Park, Kidbrooke, where her body was found.
Detective Chief Inspector Joe Garrity said: “Our initial enquiries suggest that this attack happened at around 20:30hrs on Friday, 17 September, a time when the park was likely being used by many people from dog walkers to joggers.
“Sabina was found near the OneSpace community centre which we know is a facility used by lots of people and we would ask anyone who was in or around the area and who may have any information to come forward.
“Did you see someone loitering or acting suspiciously? Or, did you see someone leaving the area in a hurry, perhaps running away? If you have any information, it is vital you tell us.
“We are working around the clock to deliver justice for the family of this young woman, and we need your help to do it. Please contact 0208 721 4266, or 101. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers .”
Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry, responsible for local policing in Greenwich, said: “Our thoughts are first and foremost with Sabina’s family and friends following this shocking incident and we will continue to provide our support to them as the investigation progresses.
“We know this incident will be worrying to those who live and work in the community.
“Over the next few days, they can expect to see extra high-visibility patrols both in and around the crime scene as well as other open spaces across the boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich.
“As always, we are also working very closely with both local authorities to speak to our communities to ensure we are doing everything possible to keep people safe.”
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