The killer of a grandfather dismembered his body and removed his limbs from his flat, police say.
Noel Brown, 69, was found next to his daughter, Marie Brown, 41, who had also been killed at his home in New Butt Lane, Deptford, on 4 December. Both had been strangled and detectives are hunting a suspect captured on CCTV carrying a large rucksack.
Family members have described mother-of-two Marie Brown as a “calm, peaceful person” and police have said her father was well respected in the community.
DCI Simon Harding revealed that parts of both Noel Brown’s arms and a part of one of his legs had been removed from the scene, and had not been recovered.
“In my 27 years of policing, I have not seen anything quite like this,” he said. He added that there was no trace of the missing body parts after police divers searched nearby Deptford Creek, and specialist dogs had scoured the estate.
Brown was convicted of a sex offence and jailed in 1999, and was released in 2004 – and had become a respected member of the community in his estate in Deptford. “People came to him for help,” said DCI Harding. “He was friendly and helpful.”
Harding said the victim’s criminal past was being treated as a significant line of inquiry and people involved at the time had been questioned by police.
He played down earlier speculation that Brown, who gambled regularly, may have been murdered over a big betting win, adding: “It could be a stranger or a failed robbery or burglary. The amount he had won was a matter of pence.
“There is no evidence of gambling or anything that might have caused people to come after him over debts.”
It is believed Brown’s daughter stumbled across his murderer in his flat and was killed as a result. A neighbour saw Brown at his home at about 8pm on Thursday November 30, and at about midday on Saturday December 2 his daughter went to his flat out of concern for his welfare. She was not seen again alive.
“It would appear she is strangled almost instantly after she arrived,” said DCI Harding. “She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“We are still looking for whatever it was that was used to kill her.
“Forensic tests are the most intense we can use, searching the premises in minute detail. The building is still undergoing tests and will be until December 31.”
The Metropolitan police believe the suspect visited the flat at least four times between late Thursday evening and when the bodies were found.
A series of CCTV clips show the suspect, who appears to be aged in his 20s or 30s, dressed in a hooded top, dark-coloured jacket and trousers or jogging bottoms, dark trainers and carrying a rucksack. He is seen in the footage walking along Deptford Broadway towards the junction with the A2209 and then along Reginald Road at about 5am on December 2.
In one clip, he appears to cross the road to avoid walking straight past a woman in a light-coloured jacket coming in the opposite direction. Police are hoping to trace this woman in the hope she might be able to describe him.
“There were lots of people about even though it was 5am,” said DCI Harding. “We cannot rule out that there might have been more than one person and people moving in and out of the building. There was still movement after Marie was killed.
“The killer is someone willing to take a high level of risk – coming and going over the course of four days until we were called in the early hours of Monday.
“What he did was quite calculating. He was still willing to take risks after killing Marie.
“If he had managed to remove Noel’s body, it would have been a missing person case, which is very hard to investigate.
“There was a camera in New Butt Lane but it was not working. CCTV cameras do go down quite a lot. But it might have told us a lot.”
Police have also released two new images of Noel Brown from the last day that he was known to be alive, taken from Paddy Power bookmakers in Deptford High Street on November 30.
“Noel was last seen at 8pm on Thursday November 30,” said DCI Harding. “He was a man of habit and would usually place a bet at Paddy Power at 10.30am and failed to do so the following morning. A neighbour knocked on the door but could not get an answer.
“Marie talked to the neighbours on the Saturday. She probably walked in on whatever was going on. I don’t know, but it was pr0bably the dismemberment.
“We have asked behavioural scientists to look at the sort of person who would do this; and for forensics to look at things in the flat that might not be seen by the naked eye.
“As far as we can tell at this stage, the only thing we can’t find is Marie’s bank card.
“We are also trawling through thousands of hours of CCTV footage.”
A statement from Marie Brown’s family said: “As a family we are struggling to put together an appeal because we are still in shock and disbelief. Marie was the peacemaker and we cannot understand why this would happen to her. It is obvious that we need to find the person or people who have done this to her, but we have no information and need your help.
“Marie was a calm, peaceful person, slow to anger and quick to forgive. She never got caught up in any sort of fight and avoided feuds with anyone because she didn’t want to be a part of anyone’s upset. To know Marie would be to know how much she loved. Her life was her kids and how much she loved them and would do anything for them.”