Mystery surrounds female corpse found in suitcase in Hendon, north London

Body found in a wooded area in north west London near a primary school

Mystery surrounds the death of a woman whose body was discovered by police inside a suitcase dumped in a wood in north London.

A murder inquiry has been launched and police were at the scene searching for clues today, following the gruesome discovery in a quiet, suburban area.

Officers were called early on Sunday evening and residents said forensic teams combed the area until the early hours.  But police said they had found out little else about the woman. Officers confirmed the identity of the person who called in the report was one line of enquiry they were following but refused to release any further details last night.

“We have a body in a suitcase, we have moved it and we have not got the body out,” DCI Nicola Wall of the Murder Squad told reporters today. She added: “We are working as hard as we can to find out who's in that suitcase and how they came to be in there. There is a family out there and we don't want to unnecessarily worry people. We are doing our best to find out lines of evidence there are at this time.”

And she said that her team was yet to examine the body or the suitcase in detail in order to “preserve forensic opportunities”. A statement released by the Metropolitan Police Service today said the woman was white and an adult but gave no further details as to her identity.

The body was found in a wooded area in Hendon, north west London. The scene is near some playing fields and a primary school, which was open today, and a brook runs through the trees. The area was cordoned off as officers in protective boiler suits investigated.

One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “We heard it was a woman in a suitcase. The police…had sniffer dogs, which were going mental at one point. I thought that meant they must have found a body.

“It is a bit sick. We didn't know anything until the police turned up. My husband went to find out what was going on, they said they had found something sinister. It is a family area, it is a quiet street. Maybe the person who did it thought it would be an ideal place.

Maggie Wilmott, 48, who works for Public Health England, said: “We were up all night, the forensics team were around checking. It is a public access round there, it is lit up but I wouldn't walk down there at night. It has caused problems with all the parents because the school is still open.”

Police said work to find about more about the woman would resume at the site tomorrow morning.