PCSO Julia James's ex distraught at 'mystery' murder as neighbour reveals last sighting before mum found dead in woods

THE ex of a PCSO reportedly murdered as she walked her dog has today told of his devastation – while a neighbour revealed the last time the mum was seen alive.

The body of Julia James, 53, was tragically discovered in Akholt Wood in Snowdown, near Dover – with her loyal dog staying with her body until she was found, neighbours claimed.

Julia's ex Wayne Davis, 62, with whom she shared son Patrick, 23, said her death – which happened as she walked her dog in a Kent village – bears eerie similarities to the horrific Chillenden murders.

Those killings happened just two-and-a-half miles away in 1996.

He told The Sun: “The first I heard of it was last night.

"I asked my son if he knew what was happening in Snowdown.

"He said to begin with he didn’t, but there was police everywhere. I said I’d heard a woman has lost her life. 

“Then a bit later, the phone rang and he said, 'Dad, it’s Mum’. He was crying and crying.

“He was devastated. Julia was the love of my life, but we separated, as couples sometimes do.

“She was a lovely woman. She was walking her dog a lot.

“What she did as a PCSO was not just a job – it was a way of life."

And he raised the frightening possibility someone knew where Julia was when she began her walk.

“What I personally find odd, is it’s happened in the middle of nowhere," he said.

“It’s a mystery. The police know more than what they’re saying – they want to catch who has done it. 

“For something like that to happen, in the middle of nowhere – you don’t know whether it’s just random."

Julia's body was discovered near Chillenden, where mum and daughter Lin and Megan Russell, as well as dog Lucy, were murdered in 1996. Lin's older daughter Josie, then nine, suffered horrific injuries but survived the attack.

Michael Stone was jailed for the horrifying murders. His earliest chance of release will be in 2023, when he will be 63.

Meanwhile, neighbour Sean Simmonds says he believes he's the last person to have seen tragic Julia alive.

"I was polishing my car on the driveway and I looked up and saw Julia walking past on the other side of the road with the dog," he said.

"She was heading towards the woods at the back, I'd occasionally bump into her there when I was out walking my two dogs.

"I didn't see her come back. Around 4pm, the police arrived and started cordoning off the area."

The 57-year-old paramedic added: "I might have been the last person to see her alive.

"It’s chilling."

One neighbour of Julia’s broke down in tears when he paid tribute yesterday. 

He said: “It’s heartbreaking – absolutely tragic.

“I can’t believe it. She was a loving mum and the pillar of the community.

“This is devastating. She was a lovely woman. A terrific part of the community.

“Her family transformed the house and improved it greatly. It was a great comfort having a PCSO there.

“They’re a lovely family."

While Kent Police have insisted they are treating the tragedy as a suspicious death, the Major Incident Public Portal, which witnesses can use to submit potentially vital information, described it as a 'murder' codenamed Operation Sark.

National Police Federation chair John Apter tweeted: "Police have launched a murder investigation after ⁦@kent_police⁩ PCSO Julia James was found dead in remote Snowdown woods.

"My heart goes out to Julia’s family, friend and her colleagues. This is devastating news."

Police have not revealed how the popular officer died but a post mortem is due to be held to establish the exact cause of death.

Officers were seen guarding a field alongside Aylesham Road while several more fields were also sealed off with one officer saying it was a "very big crime scene".

An aerial image from the scene appears to show a police tent set up next to floodlights in a nearby field.

Kent Police also refused to say if Mrs James, who is believed to have served in the domestic violence unit, was on or off duty when she died.

Mrs James, who lived in Aylesham, Kent, became a PCSO in 2007.

The Chillenden murders

Julia James’ body was found in Snowdown, Kent – just two-and-a-half miles from Chillenden.

In 1996, Michael Stone slaughtered Dr Lin Russell, 45, and her six-year-old daughter Megan, along with the family dog.

He also tried to kill nine-year-old Josie Russell, who miraculously survived the horror.

The family were tied up, blindfolded and attacked with a hammer as they walked in a country lane in the Kent village.

Following the horrific incident, Josie and her father Shaun moved to Dyfrryn Nantlle, Gwynedd, Wales Online reported.

And Josie has gone on to see great success as an artist. She got engaged in 2018, when she said she hopes to be a mum.

Stone's earliest chance of release will be in 2023, when he will be 63.

Lawyers acting for him have claimed there is "compelling evidence" linking Levi Bellfield to the Russell killings.

Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police Tom Richards said: "Officers are carrying out a number of lines of enquiry to establish the circumstances and people in the Snowdown area will see an increased police presence as a result.

"It saddens me to confirm that the victim was a serving PCSO for Kent Police and whilst there is a full and thorough investigation underway our thoughts also remain with her family, friends and colleagues.

"It is vitally important that anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday who may have seen something suspicious gets in touch with us.

"We’re particularly keen to speak to those who regularly visit the area who may have seen something out of place and those who drove by who have dashcam footage.

"We would advise anyone in the area to remain vigilant until the full circumstances of the death are established."

Home Secretary Priti Patel also tweeted, saying: "So saddened to hear of the death of Kent Police PCSO Julia James. I offer my sincere condolences to Julia’s friends, family and colleagues at this awful time."

Officers are keen to speak to anyone in the area on Monday or Tuesday who may have seen something unusual or suspicious.

Anyone with information should call 0800 0514526.

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