'This person is someone's loved one, someone's family member,' said Det Supt Rob Kirby of Essex Police as police launched a murder inquiry.
Human remains found in a pond on New Year's Eve may have been in the water for weeks, say police who have now launched a murder investigation.
Officers were called to Oakwood Pond near Fourth Avenue in Harlow, Essex, shortly before 2pm on New Year's Eve.
Reports had been made to police that a suspicious object had been seen in the water.
Specialist forensic officers later confirmed they were human remains, and Essex Police announced on Tuesday that the force was now treating the death as murder.
Det Supt Rob Kirby said officers were still working to identify the victim, adding to reporters it was “too early” to identify any characteristics such as age, gender or ethnicity.
Answering questions about how long the victim had been there, he said: ”Some witnesses have indicated that the human remains have been there for some time.”
Pressed on if this meant days, weeks or months, he said: “I think the indication is several weeks, certainly.”
The pond lies in a wooded area near the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.
Det Supt Kirby said he expected a cordon to be in place for several days as officers carried out searches of the area, including draining the pond.
He said police were unsure at this stage if the human remains were linked to a missing person’s case.
"We will always contact organisations particularly those responsible for managing missing persons," he said.
“We are keeping a really open mind as to how the remains ended up there.”
He said forensic results were due back by the end of the week, adding: "As soon as we’ve identified the victim then we are in a much better place."
He said: “This person is someone’s loved one, someone’s family member, and they will have questions about how and why they were killed. We are committed to finding out what happened, and who is responsible, and will work relentlessly to bring those responsible to justice.”
The leader of Harlow Council has said he was “shocked and saddened” following the discovery.
Councillor Russell Perrin said: “I am shocked and saddened as this awful situation has developed within one of our pond areas in the town. I know that this is a concerning time for our residents and the police are working hard to establish what has happened.”
He added: “There has been contact between the police and the council and our permission has been given for the pond to be drained as part of the investigation. We continue to support the police and it is important that they are given as much time as they need to find out what has happened."
Police continue to appeal for witnesses or anyone with information. People can get in touch through the Essex Police website.
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