A DOGNAPPER was on the prowl in the weeks before the murder of PCSO Julia James.
The BMW driver in his 60s twice approached owners in a threatening way.
It led police to post a warning urging women not to walk their dogs alone.
The danger emerged days after mum-of-two Julia, 53, was battered with a blunt weapon while walking her Jack Russell.
A source said yesterday: “It’s possible the murderer was targeting her dog but it went horribly wrong.
“She may have struggled, leading to the attack.
"The killer is not going to want to take a chipped dog knowing he’s just committed a murder.
“He may have panicked and fled, leaving the dog.”
Julia’s body was found in woods at Snowdown, Kent, last Tuesday.
Detectives have not recovered a weapon and have no clear motive
They are also probing reports of a flasher.
The police notice, posted in a local magazine, warned of two incidents in March where a BMW driver asked walkers to exchange their dog for cigs
Yesterday, Julia’s uncle Michael Turnbull posted on Facebook: “Julia has been taken from us by some worthless cowardly excuse for a human being for no other reason than his own sense of self-gratification to justify what he did, leaving behind a family full of broken hearts.
“Please find this monster before he causes more grief.”
Julia wed electrician Paul, 57, four years ago.
Son Patrick is 23 and daughter Beth is thought to work for the police.
Searches continued in the woods yesterday and it emerged the National Crime Agency is assisting.
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