Police have launched a murder probe after a mother-of-two was found dead in a bush at east London. 

Maria Jane Rawlings, 45, from Chelmsford, Essex, was found deceased in Little Heath, Romford, by a man who was walking his dog at around 2:pm on Tuesday. 

A post-mortem examination gave the woman’s preliminary cause of death as neck compression and possible blunt force head trauma, the force said. 

Officers are still examining the scene and are expected to remain in the area for several days. On Monday evening, Ms Rawlings attended the King George Hospital in Goodmayes, Ilford, before leaving on foot to Barley Lane in the direction of the A12. 

Detectives believe someone may have approached her while she was walking on that road. Police are yet to make an arrest, the Met said as detectives appeal for witnesses.Maria Jane Rawlings (pictured above), 45, from Chelmsford, Essex, was found dead in Little Heath, Romford, by a man who was walking his dog at around 2pm on Tuesday

Detective Chief Inspector David Hillier, who is leading the investigation, said: “My team and I are working around the clock following a number of inquiries in our work to establish what happened to Maria. 

“Her family is understandably distraught and we are doing all we can to help them as they begin to come to terms with their loss. 

“Now I am asking for the public to help us. I want to hear from anyone who knew Maria and knows about where she had been and who she had been associating with. 


“Have you seen her in the area in the company of another person? Had you recently heard or seen a disturbance or struggle in the area but did not think it significant at the time? 

“You might have dash-cam or doorbell footage that could have captured her – please think carefully and, if you can help, contact police.”

Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman, BCU commander for Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge, added: ‘I understand the concerns around safety that will arise from this, particularly from women, and we have increased patrols in the area from our local policing teams. 

“Community safety remains a high priority and I urge anyone who has any concern to speak to my officers when you see them or contact us.”