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Alice Gross murder: Man's body formally identified as prime suspect Arnis Zalkalns as post-mortem suggests hanging

Officers at the Metropolitan Police say there is no evidence of third party involvement in the Latvian's death

Natasha Culzac
Tuesday 07 October 2014 06:54 BST
Latvian Arnis Zalkalns was named as the prime suspect in the investigation into the murder of teenager Alice Gross
Latvian Arnis Zalkalns was named as the prime suspect in the investigation into the murder of teenager Alice Gross (PA)

The body discovered in dense overgrowth by detectives investigating the murder of Alice Gross has been formally identified as that of Latvian builder and prime suspect Arnis Zalkalns.

A post-mortem on Zalkalns’ body also found that he had wounds consistent with hanging and officers said there is no evidence of any third party involvement.

Zalkalns’ remains were located in Boston Manor Park in west London on 4 October at 2pm – just over a month after he was last seen and in an area not previously searched by police.

The 41-year-old was seen on CCTV cycling behind 14-year-old Alice as she walked along the Grand Union Canal towpath on 28 August, just before she disappeared and failed to return to her home in Hanwell.

The badly decomposing body of convicted killer Zalkalns, who served seven years in prison in his native country for the murder of his wife Rudite, was found a 20-minute walk away from where Alice’s body was also found.

Police said that their search for the schoolgirl, which was described as one of the most complex operations “undertaken in recent times”, had taken in “25 square kilometres of canals, rivers and land”.

The teams combing the initial areas identified other “inaccessible” spots “that required further search with specialist equipment, trained officers, police divers or search dogs” and included some parts of the park, including where Zalkalns was later found.

“The recovery required a substantial removal of forestry to enable access for forensic teams,” the Metropolitan Police said.

“The body was eventually removed shortly after 10am on Sunday 5 October.”

Resident Tony Cox, who has lived in the area for 23 years said at the weekend: “There will be people who have lived here as long as me who don’t even know that area exists.

“It’s really only people fishing round there. It wouldn’t be your average passer-by who would go round that way.”

Alice's body was found in the shallow waters of the River Brent and police said there had been extensive steps to try and disguise her.

Zalkalns was convicted of bludgeoning his former wife to death in 1998, before moving to the UK in 2007. He was arrested in 2009 for indecent assault on a 14-year-old, but no further action was taken.

He was last seen on 3 September and had been due to cycle to work the following day with a friend but failed to show up.

It has been reported that officers only became aware of Zalkalns after witnesses went to police to say that 'missing person' posters of him had been put up along the same stretch of river where Alice had disappeared.

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