manhunt has been launched after a young woman was ambushed and brutally killed in the street.
Neighbours told how they were woken by her screams in east London.
Scotland Yard said the 36-year-old suffered serious head injuries in “a horrific assault” as she walked in the direction of Gants Hill Station, Ilford early on Sunday.
Officers were called to the scene by paramedics who found her at 2.44am. The victim later died in hospital.
No arrests have been made and a police spokesman declined to comment on the exact nature of the injuries inflicted.
Residents spoke of their “sheer horror” as forensic teams scoured Cranbrook Road for clues.
Detectives carried out door to door inquiries and collecting CCTV with the crime scene behind a police cordon.
The mother is the 16th woman killed in an act of violence in London so far in 2022 – a third of the 50 homicides being investigated by the Met, British Transport and City of London forces.
The ratio is higher than the same time last year, when 13 out of 60 victims were female.
One man, whose house is close to the scene, said: “My neighbour heard a woman screaming. It was very late. The next thing we knew there was a helicopter and police dog barking. When we discovered what happened it was sheer horror.”
Another man said the incident happened directly outside his house.
He said: “My wife heard a man shouting. Then a little later there were police and flashing lights everywhere. We thought it was some drunk. Now I feel guilty I could have helped. If only I had gone out. We had no idea that something so horrible has happened outside our home.”
A resident who lives near the crime scene said he had reported to the police an incident of a man with “wild eyes” harassing a woman nearby in recent weeks.
He told the Standard: “I was sitting having a drink and this guy started harassing a woman I didn’t know. The guy had wild eyes and was very scared. I have reported it to the police. It may be something and nothing but it may be important. This guy didn’t look right.”
A mother of four girls added: “I’m so worried. I’ve told my daughters to be so careful. The attack took place on a busy road. The killer was taking a big risk. It’s horrifying.”
Another resident said: “To think that a killer is on the loose and women are being warned to be careful is terrifying for us. I won’t go out after dark now.”
A neighbour continued: “I live opposite and saw flashing lights, then a woman was being treated by paramedics. They put her on a stretcher and took her to hospital. We are all reeling from what’s happened on our doorstep.”
One local said: “We are in total disbelief.”
Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, who leads the Met’s East Area basic command, said: “The woman had been subjected to a horrific assault and sadly passed away as a result of her injuries.
“Urgent inquiries have been under way since the very early hours of Sunday morning to identify the woman. At this time formal identification is yet to take place but the woman’s family have been informed and are receiving support from specially trained officers.
“Teams of dedicated officers are working at pace to establish what happened and identify the person responsible. This includes full forensic examination of the scene and the surrounding area, house to house inquiries and a focus on identifying all available CCTV.
“No arrests have been made at this time.
“Local people will see a significant police presence in the area today and in the coming days.
“I understand that for women, particularly locally, this is an incredibly distressing incident, and I urge you to be alert but not alarmed.”
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Rogers, leading the investigation, added: “It is vital that my officers speak with every possible witness and everyone with information that may assist the investigation.
“We also want to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious in the wider Ilford area overnight.”
A father living near the scene said he “worries” for other local women although this was the first serious incident that he remembered happening in the area in 15 years.
Subhash, 60, who lives just off Cranbrook Road, said: “It worries me a little bit that something like that is happening on my doorstep.”
“It’s not just my daughter, it’s other daughters, other girls, other women in the area.
“It’s quite a serious matter, how safe are you in your own area?”
Meanwhile, police have named a 31-year-old man found stabbed to death in west London.
Karamjeet Singh Reel, from Hounslow, was found with stab wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene in Staines Road.
Anyone with information should call the major incident room on 0208 345 3715 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.