PCSO's murder has chilling echoes of notorious Chillenden killings

PCSO’s murder has chilling echoes of notorious Chillenden killings: Body was found less than three miles from spot where mother and daughter were bludgeoned to death 25 years ago

  • Body of Julia James, 53, found on Tuesday on a path at the edge of woods in Kent
  • Two and a half miles from Chillenden, where Lin and Megan Russell were killed
  • Michael Stone convicted over attack, which saw Megan’s sister Josie escape 

The body of murdered PSCO Julia James was found on Tuesday on a path at the edge of Akholt Wood in Snowdown, near Aylesham in Kent. 

This is just two and a half miles from Cherry Garden Lane in the neighbouring village of Chillenden, where Lin Russell, 45, was murdered alongside her six-year-old daughter Megan in July 1996.

Ms James, a 53-year-old mother of two, was attacked while out walking her dog, with police fearing she could have been targeted by a random attacker. Meanwhile, Dr Russell and her two daughters were ambushed while walking home down a quiet country lane from a swimming competition. 

Lin Russell (left) was murdered in 1996 alongside her three-year-old daughter, Megan (right). Megan’s sister, Josie, nine, escaped alive and was unable to speak for a year  

Lin Russell, 45, and her daughter Megan, six were murdered in Kent in 1996. Ms James, a serving PCSO for Kent Police, was found dead on a secluded footpath in Snowdown, near Dover, on Tuesday 

Wayne Davis, who was with Mrs James for 13 years before their split in 2009, drew a comparison between both tragedies. 

‘It immediately reminded me of what happened with Lin and Megan Russell in Chillenden, which is just 2.5miles away,’ he said. 

Michael Stone was later convicted of murdering Dr Russell and Megan and seriously injuring her nine-year-old sister, Josie, on July 9, 1996.

Stone tied them up with strips torn from Josie’s swimming towel, a bootlace and a pair of tights before blindfolding them and beating them to death with a hammer. 

Stone was handed three life sentences for murdering the Russells 

Josie survived the brutal attack, leaving her traumatised and unable to speak for a whole year. 

Stone also killed the family dog, Lucy. Meanwhile, Ms James’ Jack Russell terrier stayed with her body until it was found lying on a path

The random attack shocked the nation and sparked one of the biggest manhunts in British police history, with heroin addict Stone, then 37, arrested more than a year later and charged.  

He was given three life sentences being found guilty at two trials – he also lost an appeal. The basis of his conviction was a confession to a fellow prisoner. 

Josie went on to rebuild her life after the tragedy, and in 2009 graduated from Coleg Menai in Bangor with a degree in graphic design. She started a greeting card business before moving on to producing textile landscapes, which now sell for up to £500 each. 

Stone has always protested his innocence and insisted Milly Dowler’s killer Levi Bellfield was to blame. He lost his latest bid to have his conviction overturned in 2019.   

Today police urged the public to be vigilant as they continued to investigate Ms James’ murder. 

The PCSO, who had worked for the police for nearly 15 years and had been commended for bravery for chasing a shoplifter, was found dead with serious head injuries. 

The body of Mrs James was found just two fields from her home in Snowdown, Kent, on Tuesday afternoon

Nearby fields remain sealed off today and a police tent can be seen on a path that runs between a field and woodland

Her body was found lying on a path at the edge of a field in Akholt Wood on Tuesday afternoon at 4pm. She was last seen by a neighbour leaving the house an hour earlier.

Her ex-partner suggested that her work in Kent Police’s domestic violence unit is also being looked at in case she was attacked by someone with a vendetta.

Wayne Davis, who was with Mrs James for 13 years before their split in 2009, had earlier in the day texted son Patrick a Facebook link about a woman being found dead on a local path.

He asked Patrick if he knew what was going on and his son messaged back that he did not but said there was a ‘load of police’ around the village.

However, when Patrick returned to the home he shares with his girlfriend hours later in Dover he was told the awful news and rang Mr Davis in tears to say ‘that woman is mum’.

Mrs James’s ex-partner Wayne Davis (left) revealed how their son Patrick broke the news of her death to their family. Also pictured is Ms James with her current husband, Paul 

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