Sarah Everard is a marketing executive from England who vanished into thin air after leaving her friend’s house. The suspect is a Metropolitan police officer. Her body was later found and the officer, Wayne Couzens, has been formally accused of her kidnap and murder.
The 33-year-old Everard left her friend’s home through a back gate on March 3, 2021, and then started walking to her home about 50 minutes away. It’s not clear whether she ever made it there, but she hasn’t seen since. That’s all according to the Metropolitan Police, which have appealed repeatedly to the public for information on the missing woman, in a case that has gripped England.
Outrage erupted after police scuffled with protesters at a vigil for Everard, which was cancelled due to COVID-19. See those photos here.
Authorities have now found human remains in a woodland near Ashford, Kent, and they’ve been positively identified as Everard, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said in a news conference. “My thoughts and prayers are with Sarah Everard’s family and friends,” Dick said. “A man has been arrested on suspicion of Sarah’s murder. This evening, search teams…have found very sadly what appears to be human remains. The discovery was made in an area of Woodland in Ashford, in Kent.”
Dick said her disappearance happened in “awful and wicked circumstances.” She called it every family’s “worst nightmare,” and she said it was “incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets.”
But there’s another ominous twist: Police have arrested one of their own – an active duty police officer named Wayne Couzens – and they’re investigating him on allegations of “murder.” Although Everard’s body has not been found, and authorities have conducted major searches for the missing woman, that detail is clearly a troubling development in the case.
“The news today that it was a Metropolitan police officer who was arrested in Sarah’s murder has sent shock waves and anger through the public and the Met,” said Dick. “I speak on behalf of all of my colleagues when I say that we are utterly appalled at this dreadful, dreadful news. Our job is to patrol the streets and to protect people,” Dick said. The investigation is large and fast-moving, she said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect in Everard’s Disappearance Works in Diplomatic Protection
The PO arrested in the #SarahEverard case, Wayne Couzens aged 48, married & living in Deal, was a car mechanic until 10 years ago. He’s based at Westminster & would know the SC well, obvs. It’s been suggested by a source that he may have lodged at CP Estate pic.twitter.com/4mnqFEfiyN
— JJ (@BBBLondon) March 10, 2021
Who is Wayne Couzens, the suspect in the disappearance? He has an important job with Met police. Specifically, they wrote, Couzens, 48, “is a serving Metropolitan Police officer in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.”
Met police released details of Couzens’ arrest. They also arrested a woman on accusations that she assisted him. British media have reported that the suspect is Couzens, although the police news release doesn’t mention his name.
According to Kent Live, Couzens was arrested on March 9, 2021, in Kent, England. A
Metropolitan police wrote, “A man arrested in connection with the disappearance of Sarah Everard remains in custody at a London police station.”
“The man, who is aged in his 40s, was arrested on the evening of Tuesday, 9 March on suspicion of kidnap. Today, Wednesday, 10 March, he has been further arrested on suspicion of murder and a separate allegation of indecent exposure.”
They added, “The man is a serving Metropolitan Police officer in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command. His primary role was uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises.”
According to Met Police:
A woman, who is aged in her 30s, was also arrested on the evening of 9 March on suspicion of assisting an offender. She remains in custody. Officers are searching locations in London and Kent including a property in Deal and an area of woodland near Ashford. Following the arrest of the police officer, the Metropolitan Police has made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
2. Everard Worked as a Marketing Executive; It’s Not Sure Whether She & Couzens Knew Each Other
Everard worked as a marketing executive, according to Sky.com. It’s not clear whether Everard and Couzens knew each other.
The motive is not yet clear.
Superintendent Kris Wright, from the Met’s Central South Area Command Unit which covers Clapham, said: “I know that Sarah’s disappearance is weighing on people’s minds and the local community is, of course, concerned about her and may even feel worried.”
“I want them to know that they should expect to see more police officers on patrol in the area as we continue to search for Sarah and talk with the community. If you want to approach them about any concerns you have, please do so. We are here to support the community and we genuinely want to help in any way we can.”
3. Everard, a former Durham University Student, Was Seen Briefly on Surveillance Video After Leaving Her Friend’s House
According to BBC, Everard is a former Durham University student, who is originally from York.
Met police gave this timeline of what happened to Everard:
“Sarah had been at a friend’s house in Clapham on the evening of Wednesday, 3 March. At approximately 21:00hrs she left the property in Leathwaite Road through a back gate onto the A205 South Circular and began walking to her home address in Brixton,” they wrote in a news release.
The police continued, in a statement, “She is thought to have walked across Clapham Common and was expected to arrive home approximately 50 minutes later. It is unclear if she returned to her home address. She has not been seen or heard from since.”
There was a surveillance image captured of her. “At around 21:30hrs on Wednesday, 3 March she was spotted on CCTV walking alone on the A205 Poynders Road, from the junction with Cavendish Road, in the direction of Tulse Hill,” police wrote.
“The investigation continues to be treated as a missing person’s enquiry but due to its complex nature and concerns for Sarah’s welfare, it is being led by the Met’s Specialist Crime Command,” said police.
There has been no sign of her since.
4. Police Released Photos of Everard
Police released two surveillance images of Everard. In one, she wears the same coat she was wearing the night she went missing.
“Officers continue to ask people who live in the area, or who were there from 21:30hrs on Wednesday, to check any CCTV or dashcams they may have and to come forward with any information,” Met police wrote in a statement.
“Over 120 calls have so far been received from members of the public; information from which is currently being assessed by officers as part of their extensive enquiries. The investigation continues at pace, with 750 homes in the area visited; a wealth of CCTV recordings being examined; and searches of open spaces ongoing.”
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin said: “We’ve released two new images of Sarah as we continue to search for her. Please take a look at them and consider if you saw her on the night she went missing. I am interested in hearing from people who may have been in the area from 21:30hrs onward.”
He added: “We have seen an overwhelming response from the public not only in terms of information that has come into us; but also how social media is being used to share the appeals far and wide. I would like to thank everyone for the support they have provided. It is clear that everyone wants to help us to find Sarah safe and well.”
“We have seized a number of CCTV recordings but we know that there are likely to be many more out there. Please, even if you’re not sure, check your doorbell or CCTV footage just in case it holds a clue. I’m also asking delivery drivers or anyone with dashcam footage who would have been in the Poynders Road area at approximately 21:30hrs on Wednesday to come forward.”
According to Goodwin, “We have committed significant resources to this investigation, with assistance coming from across the Met. I want to remain clear that at this time we have no information to suggest that Sarah has come to any harm and we retain an open mind as to the circumstances. We share the wish of her family and friends to have her back safely with her loved ones.”
5. Everard’s Family Expressed Great Worry, Saying She Was Always in ‘Regular Contact’ With Friends & Family
In a statement released by Met police, Sarah’s family said: “With every day that goes by we are getting more worried about Sarah. She is always in regular contact with us and with her friends and it is totally out of character for her to disappear like this. We long to see her and want nothing more than for her to be found safe and well.
“We are so grateful to the police and all our friends for all they are doing. We are desperate for news and if anyone knows anything about what has happened to her, we would urge you to please come forward and speak to the police. No piece of information is too insignificant.”
Police revealed, “Sarah was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern and turquoise and orange trainers. She was also thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat.”
Some biographical details emerged of Couzens.
According to Daily Mail, Couzens is “a Westminster-based diplomatic protection officer and has to be armed for his job.” Daily Mail reported that Couzens worked as a car mechanic before becoming a police officer a decade ago.
Surveillance footage led police to Couzens as a suspect, Daily Mail reported.
The site reported that the unit Couzens was assigned to “is responsible for the protection of government owned buildings and embassies as well as ministers and visiting heads of state.”
Daily Mail reported that police were searching Couzens’ £200,000 Kent property which “is close to woodland” where police are searching for Everard.