Women & children warned to stay away from wooded areas after PCSO found murdered on Kent footpath

COPS investigating the murder of Kent PCSO Julia James have warned women to keep away from the woods and children not to walk their dogs.

The 53-year-old mum's body was discovered in Akholt Wood in hamlet Snowdown on Tuesday. Her Jack Russell was by her side.

Now locals living in the rural community have been urged to take particular care by officers investigating the horror.

Detectives are said to be probing claims Julia was attacked by a stranger on the edge of a field.

PCSOs patrolling the village, near Canterbury, told women to stay away from wooded areas and not to “veer from your normal route” when walking home, The Times reports.

Meanwhile, her ex Wayne Davis, 62, with whom she shared a son, 23, says her death bears eerie similarities to the horrific 1996 Chillenden murders just two-and-a-half miles away.

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

“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 worked for Kent Police's domestic violence unit, where she is said to have been a "devoted" advocate for victims.

Cops from the force's serious crime directorate are examining whether her killer was in the area the previous day.

No arrests have been made.

Police have not confirmed reports that Julia suffered head injuries.

The crime scene is two miles across fields from where Lin Russell and her daughter Megan were bludgeoned to death in July 1996 in Chillenden.

Lin's older daughter Josie, then nine, survived.

Locals say Julia's brings vivid memories back of the horror killings 25 years ago.

The neighbour, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the publication: “It’s just too close to home.

"You associate it with what happened in Chillenden. It makes you think, have we got someone going around killing people in the woods?

“It’s such a wide remote area so presumably whoever has done this awful thing knew the area and knows all the routes out.

"It’s a very popular path and a beautiful woods full of wildlife. Then suddenly this shocking tragedy mars it.”

Meanwhile, The Sun exclusively reported that a terrified female dog walker was accosted by a man in a van – just a mile from where Julia was murdered.

Locals say two weeks ago a woman walking her dog was approached by a man in a white transit van in Nonington – about a mile from the murder scene – two weeks ago.

He was distracted and the woman managed to flee in panic and called out for help.

One female neighbour of Julia said: “We’re all terrified. There’s a lot of dog walkers in the area.

“It’s horrific. We’re aware there’s a report of another woman having been followed.”

And it's also alleged a woman was the victim of a "flasher" recently – although the incident was not reported to cops.

Mary Bosson, a cousin of Julia’s mum, told Kent Online that everyone was scared to take their dogs for a walk.

“We all walk our dogs around that area. We don’t know if it was random or what. We won’t be doing it now until we find out," she said.

Julia had two children – a daughter who works for the police and a 23-year-old son. She also had a grandson.

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

Have we got someone going around killing people in the woods?

"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."

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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