Detectives investigating the murder of Sabina Nessa have warned the public not to approach a man captured on CCTV on the night she was attacked.
They want help to identify the man in the images that were released on Thursday evening, and a silver vehicle they believe he had access to.
The Standard understands that the man pictured walking in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke, south-east London, last Friday night is considered to be more than a potential witness. The vehicle was seen nearby.
A police spokesman said: “If a member of the public sees this man they should not approach him but dial 999 immediately.”
Officers were continuing to question a 38-year-old man arrested on Thursday and taken into custody on suspicion of Ms Nessa’s murder.
Ms Nessa, a teacher at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, left her home in Astell Road just before 8.30pm last Friday. She was believed to be walking through the park towards The Depot bar in Pegler Square, where she planned to meet a friend — possibly a first date. She did not arrive.
On Friday a mother-of-two told how one of her neighbours found Ms Nessa’s body close to the OneSpace community centre in the park.
The woman said: “He was walking his dog and saw a body. At first he was talking to her, thinking it was someone drunk sleeping it off in the long grass. Then he realised she was dead. He didn’t have his phone so a passer-by called the police. When they came, they found her ID on her — that’s how they identified her. It didn’t look like a robbery or anything.”
She added: “The man who found her is totally traumatised, he can’t sleep.”
A post mortem examination on Monday was inconclusive and it has not yet been confirmed how Ms Nessa died.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil John, from the Met’s specialist crime command, said: “Our team have been working tirelessly to find the person responsible for Sabina’s murder and this has included an extensive trawl of CCTV, work which remains ongoing.
“We would ask anyone — especially those in Kidbrooke and the wider area of Lewisham and Greenwich — to take a careful look at these images to check whether you know who this man is, or have seen him over recent days.
“Any information as to his identity or whereabouts could be vital for our investigation so we are asking you to share this image far and wide to ensure as many people as possible see it.”
Ms Nessa’s cousin Zubel Ahmed described her as a “beautiful soul” who loved teaching. He also told the BBC that she “was the most caring person — kindest, sweetest girl you could meet”.
Police have now made two arrests in connection with the attack. On Saturday, detectives arrested a man in his forties on suspicion of murder. He was later released under further investigation. The second arrest, of the 38-year-old man, was made in Lewisham.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said Londoners were united in grief following the murder. “What happened to Sabina is every parent’s nightmare and every woman’s worst fear,” he said.
“It is right that we are once again asking why parts of our society remain unsafe for women going about their daily lives and I am determined that the conversation does not begin or end with the behaviour of victims. City Hall has invested record sums in tackling violence against women and girls because I passionately believe they should not only feel safe but be safe in our city. As Mayor, the fact that is not always the case weighs heavily on my heart.
“Once again I want to urge anyone who may have been in the park around the time of the incident last Friday, and may have relevant information, to contact the police — any information you can share will be vital in supporting the investigation.”
Dozens more bouquets have been left at the park. Tributes to Ms Nessa included a note reading: “Miss you so much. RIP my beautiful friend.”
Another note said: “She just wanted to meet her friend. She was minutes from her home. She didn’t deserve this.”
Some police cordons have been removed from the north end of the park, including those which had sealed off the OneSpace community centre.
Anyone with information should call the incident room on 0208 721 4266 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.