Wayne Couzens is a Metropolitan Police officer in England who is accused in the disappearance and death of a missing marketing executive named Sarah Everard, who vanished on March 3. Her remains were found on March 10, police announced.
According to Metropolitan Police, the 48-year-old married suspect, whom they have not named publicly, “is a serving Metropolitan Police officer in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.” Police have not publicized any known connection between Couzens and Everard before her disappearance and murder. According to Mirror, he finished a shift at the U.S. Embassy about 90 minutes before Everard was kidnapped.
The motive is not yet clear. According to Sky News, Couzens has been charged in Everard’s kidnapping and murder and will face a court appearance on March 13, 2021.
Outrage erupted after police scuffled with protesters at a vigil for Everard, which was cancelled due to COVID-19. See those photos here. The murder has highlighted the issue of women’s safety throughout England.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Say They Arrested a ‘Serving Metropolitan Police Officer’ in His 40s on ‘Suspicion of Murder’
Although police have not formally released Couzens’ name, it has been widely reported in the British news media.
Metropolitan Police confirmed that they had arrested a man without naming him in their initial statement. “A man arrested in connection with the disappearance of Sarah Everard remains in custody at a London police station,” they wrote in an update.
“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.” Mirror reported that Couzens had continued to work as a Met police officer despite an unrelated “complaint of indecent exposure just days” before Everard was taken.
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.” He worked the day Everard disappeared guarding the U.S. embassy, according to Metro.
They added, “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. … Following the arrest of the police officer, the Metropolitan Police has made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.”
During his second night in custody, Couzens was found unconscious in his jail cell with serious head injuries and taken to a hospital, according to The Sun. “There is no suggestion that anyone else was involved,” The Sun reported, and he was discharged and returned to jail.
2. Everard’s Remains Were Found More Than 50 Miles From Where She Was Last Seen, According to Police
Police sources told The Times of London that Everard’s disappearance was a “stranger attack” and that she “had no connection with” the perpetrator.
On March 10, the Metropolitan Police announced they had found human remains in a wooded area near Ashford, Kent — more than 50 miles from where she went missing, the Daily Mail reported.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Sarah Everard’s family and friends,” Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said in a news conference. “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.”
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave confirmed on March 12 that the remains were Everard’s. “I understand that women in London and the wider public, particularly those in the area where Sarah went missing, will be worried and may well be feeling frightened,” he said in a news release. “Londoners are likely to continue to see extra officers on the streets in the coming days. … Our dedication to serve the people of London is undiminished.”
Everard worked as a marketing executive, The Sun reported.
3. Everard Was Last Seen Leaving a Friend’s House in Clapham; a Neighbor Described Couzens, a Married Father, as a ‘Nice Bloke’
Couzens’ neighbor John Chidwick, 67, told the Daily Mail, “He had some timber sheets going spare and I asked if I could have them to build a manure box for my allotment. He was a nice, friendly bloke and well spoken. He hadn’t been living on the road all that long, about four years give or take, but seems to be a family man as most people around here are. I know he’s a police officer.”
The British news site said another neighbor indicated police were digging up Couzen’s garden.
Couzens is a married father of two, the Daily Mail reported. His wife is a laboratory manager who is from the Ukraine, according to the outlet.
According to a statement from Metropolitan Police, “Sarah Everard 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.”
The statement continued, “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.”
Surveillance images provided the “last known sighting” of Everard, police said. “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.”
According to Mirror, Everard spoke to her boyfriend Josh Lowth on the phone for 15 minutes; she was also captured on a doorbell camera walking. Then, she vanished.
4. Police Received More Than 100 Tips From the Public During the Search for Everard
Police released an image showing Everard, 33, wearing 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,” Metropolitan Police wrote in a statement on the case.
“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.”
According to the statement, 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.”
She 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. Couzens Previously Worked as a Car Mechanic
According to the Daily Mail, Couzens is a Westminster-based diplomatic protection officer who carries a gun for his job. Daily Mail reported that Couzens worked as a car mechanic before becoming a police officer a decade ago.
The Daily Mail reported that police also questioned Couzens about an indecent exposure case involving another woman. Surveillance footage led police to Couzens as a suspect, the outlet reported.
The Daily Mail 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.”
Police searched Couzens’ £200,000 Kent property, according to the Daily Mail.