A murdered police community officer whose body was discovered in woodland near Dover earlier this week was last seen walking her dog, it has been reported.
Detectives have been seen carrying out searches in the woodland surrounding the quiet hamlet, and a white tent has been pictured in a field with officers standing nearby.
On Thursday, the deceased’s former partner, Wayne Davis, spoke of his devastation at the killing.
He told The Sun he heard the news from his son Patrick, 23, whom he shares with Ms James.
“The first I heard of it was last night. I asked my son if he knew what was happening in Snowdown,” he said.
He added: “He [Patrick] 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.”
Mr Davis added that his former partner was a “lovely woman” and that her job with the police was a “way of life” for her.
Ms James was last spotted on Tuesday afternoon by a neighbour while she was walking her dog, according to the BBC.
The loss has shocked the tiny nearby hamlet of Snowdown, where Ms James is believed to have lived with her husband.
Local resident John Miller, 72, said: “I can’t believe it’s true to be honest, everyone feels safe round here.
“I’m gutted, gutted for the family and whoever it is I hope they catch them and they get put away for life.”
Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said Kent Police are pursuing “a number of lines of inquiry”.
He said: “It saddens me to confirm that the victim was a serving PCSO for Kent Police and whilst there is a full and thorough investigation under way, our thoughts also remain with her family, friends and colleagues.”
He added it was “vitally important” that anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday, who may have seen something suspicious, comes forward.
The death was originally viewed as “suspicious” but Kent Police confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that was now being treated as murder.
In a tweet on Wednesday evening, the home secretary Priti Patel said: “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.”
Additional reporting by agencies