The family of a primary school teacher who was killed in a south-east London park say they have been left “devastated” by her death.
The body of Sabina Nessa was found by a member of the public in Cator Park, Kidbrooke, on Saturday morning.
Ms Nessa’s cousin Zubel Ahmed said the 28-year-old was a “beautiful soul” and appealed for help to find whoever was responsible for the “horrific crime”.
A vigil is due to be held in her memory on Friday evening.
The Met Police believe Ms Nessa was attacked and died the previous evening, at a time when the park would have been busy.
Mr Ahmed said the family understood she had been on her way home “when she was attacked from behind.”
He said her parents were “absolutely shocked” and “inconsolable still, understandably so, to hear of their daughter being taken away from them by some cowardly man”.
Describing his cousin, Mr Ahmed said she “was the most caring person – kindest, sweetest girl you could meet”.
“She’s been teaching for two years. Loves teaching, loves kids, she’s got a couple of cats at home. She was just a beautiful soul.”
The area where she was found remains cordoned off and flowers have been left at the site.
Information sheets advising women on how to stay safe at night have been handed out by a community group in response to the death.
The handout suggests pedestrians stick to busy places with good lighting.
Advice on the sheet, printed from the Met Police website, also includes the suggestions that pedestrians should face oncoming traffic and conceal their jewellery.
Friday’s vigil has been organised by Reclaim the Streets who said they were “angry and heartbroken” by the killing and called on the government to do something about “an epidemic of violence unfolding in front of our eyes.”
Miss Nessa, who was originally from Sandy in Bedfordshire, lived in Lewisham, south-east London.
She had been a year one teacher at Rushey Green Primary school in Catford for about a year.
A post-mortem examination into the cause of the 28-year-old’s death was inconclusive, the Met said.
A man in his 40s who was arrested on suspicion of murder has been released under further investigation.
Officers have asked for any potential witnesses to contact them, and for drivers to check dash-cam footage they might have.
The Met believe the attack happened around 20: 30 BST on 17 September at a time where the park “was likely being used by many people.”
Det Supt Luke Marks said: “This did not happen in the middle of the night – people would have been in and around the park at the time.
“We have extra officers in the area conducting high-visibility patrols, and anybody in London, regardless of gender, should be able to go out in an evening and not be concerned about being the victim of violent crime.”
Ms Nessa was described by colleagues as “kind, caring and dedicated”. The school’s headteacher Lisa Williams said: “She had so much life ahead of her and so much more to give and her loss is desperately sad.
“As a school we are supporting each other through this very difficult time, and we will be providing specialist support to those who need it.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also paid tribute, saying he had been left “heartbroken” by her death.
“The perpetrator of this despicable crime must be caught and brought to justice which is why I want to encourage anyone who may have been in the park around the time of the incident, and may have relevant information, to contact the police,” he added.
Safeguarding minister Rachel Maclean told the House of Commons: “Every woman who loses their life is one woman too much and we are devastated to hear of the loss of the life of Sabina Nessa. Our hearts go out to the family.
She added that the government was “passing legislation, setting out actions and tackling these horrific crimes and we are determined to see a reduction in them”.
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