A passer-by discovered the body of Dr Ann Mead, 35, lying feet from her front gate in Grove Park, Camberwell, south-east London, at 2.30am yesterday. It is thought she had been killed just before she was discovered.
Her locked Ford Fiesta was parked near by. The murderer is thought to have grabbed her and rammed her head several times into a wall. A post- mortem examination showed she died from head injuries.
Her brother, David Mead, said his family was 'deeply shocked' and urged anyone who knew anything about the incident to contact police.
Dr Mead, who was not working on the night of her death, is thought to have been found by a neighbour. The local postman, James Dove, 43, who described Dr Mead as a friendly person, said: 'The whole neighbourhood is in shock. I saw her on Monday afternoon at about 1.30. She was in the house and seemed perfectly happy and normal.'
Dr Mead, who was single, worked as a GP in a Herne Hill family practice a mile away. One of the senior partners, Dr Gerard Dickinson, said in a statement: 'All the doctors and staff at the surgery . . . were devasted by the news of her death. Dr Mead had been a partner at the surgery since January 1992 and was much loved and respected by patients and colleagues alike.'
One of her patients said: 'She was the sweetest, gentlest and kindest woman. I cannot think who would want to do this to her.'
Dr John Spindler, who worked with Dr Mead until four months ago, said he was 'astonished'. 'I can't think of any reason for her death,' he said.
A police spokesman at Peckham, where the murder inquiry is being led by Detective Superintendent Ian Crampton, said: 'We are making house to house inquiries and keeping an open mind at present.'
Police are appealing for Dr Mead's friends to contact them and want to speak to anyone who saw people acting suspiciously in the Grove Park area on the night of her death.