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Police seek to trace rough sleepers after woman, 80, found murdered at allotment

An 80-year-old woman has been found murdered in a garage at an allotment where she was secretary.

Detectives are trying to trace rough sleepers after t he body of frail pensioner Lea Adri-Soejoko was discovered in a lock-up store at the green site in Colindale, north-west London, on Tuesday.

Scotland Yard said they know how the secretary of the Colindale Allotment and Garden Association died but have yet to reveal it.

They have also not yet discovered a motive for the brutal killing.

Neighbours spoke of their shock on Thursday after her body was found by police at the allotment site in Sheaveshill Avenue less than half an hour after she was reported missing.

Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh said officers were keen to establish the identity of people who "may have been rough sleeping in and around that area at certain times".

"We would like to establish who those individuals are and account for them."

He said that police were also looking into reports of previous crime in the area.

Ms Adri-Soejoko, who was also known by her maiden name of Hulselman, was last seen at 6.30pm on Sunday and spoke to a friend on the phone at 2.30pm on Monday, according to police.

"She was due to attend a meeting in the Barnet area around gardening and good practice and she did not turn up to that meeting," DCI McHugh told reporters at the scene on Thursday afternoon.

"So a friend became concerned and then alerted family members."

On the day she disappeared she was believed to be wearing a blue quilted jacket, grey bottoms and black boots with white spots and pink piping.

Police said they were looking to account for everybody who was in the allotments between Sunday evening and Tuesday morning.

DCI McHugh said police have established a cause of death, but that the information would not be released.

In an earlier statement, he confirmed that police did "not have a motive for Lea's murder" and said she had died in "the most tragic way possible".

Neighbour Danila Catruta, 39, said she used to see Ms Adri-Soejoko in her garden, and that her murder had left her "scared" and "very surprised".

"Since I heard about it I keep thinking about the situation. How can people do this?" she told the Press Association.

"I feel very sorry about what happened because no one should be treated like this."

Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: "This is a really nice area. I love to live here. It feels unreal. I did not think it would happen around this area.

"I have been living here for around two-and-a-half years, and nothing ever happens here."

Cordons were in place on Thursday afternoon around the shed and out-houses at the allotment, which is next to a children's nursery and a stone's throw from the Metropolitan Police Training Centre.

A police car and officer were seen keeping guard outside the allotment buildings.

The place where Ms Adri-Soejoko's body was found was best described as a garage - with two wooden doors, DCI McHugh said.

He added that the 80-year-old had access to it.

He also said he would like to reassure members of the public that patrols had been increased in the area.

There have been no arrests so far over the death, Scotland Yard said.

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