Published: 06:36, 29 April 2021
| Updated: 19:01, 29 April 2021
The former partner of PCSO Julia James, who was killed as she walked her dog, has told of his devastation as a village mourns its loss.
A murder inquiry is underway after the body of Mrs James, 53, was discovered in Ackholt Wood in Snowdown, near Dover on Tuesday evening.
She had been walking her Jack Russell at the time of her death and the beloved pet stayed beside her body.
Today floral tributes were left to Julia in Aylesham square as her former partner Wayne Davis, 62, said she was 'the love of his life.'
The couple shared a son, Patrick, 23.
Mr Davis told The Sun: "The first I heard of it was Tuesday night. I asked my son if he know what was happening in Snowdown.
"He said to begin with he didn't, but there were police everywhere. I said I'd heard a woman had lost her life.
"Then a bit later the phone rang and he said 'Dad, it's mum.' He was devastated.
"Julia was the love of my life but we separated, as couples sometimes do. She was a lovely woman.
"What she did as a PCSO was not just a job - it was a way of life.
"What I personally find odd is it's happened in the middle of nowhere. It's a mystery. For something like that to happen - you just don't know whether it's just random."
Tributes left in the village square paint a picture of a well-respected and much-loved pillar of the community.
One poignant message from colleagues reads: "PCSO Julia James, your duty is done. Take it easy for now we will take it from here. Thinking of your family at this time. From the guys in blue x"
Another: "Rest in peace beautiful lady and fly high. You will always be in our thoughts. Gone but never forgotten."
Neighbour Sean Simmonds believes he may have been the last person to see Mrs James alive.
"I was polishing my car on the driveway and I looked up and saw Julia walking on the other side of the road with her dog," he said.
Ben Sandoe, 23, pays tribute to Julia James
"She was heading towards the woods at the back. I didn't see her come back. Around 4pm the police arrived and started cordoning off the area. I might have been the last person to see her alive."
Meanwhile police continue to search acres of fields and woodland around Snowdown and Aylesham today,
Two routes through to a popular dog walking area were cordoned off just before 11am.
It is believed the routes eventually lead to the field in which Julia's body was found.
Mrs James became a PCSO in 2007, joining from a council learning resource centre.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is among those to offer condolences to Mrs James' family.
She tweeted: "So saddened to hear of the death of @kent_police PCSO Julia James. I offer my sincere condolences to Julia’s friends, family and colleagues at this awful time."
And Kent's assistant chief constable Peter Ayling posted: "Some shattered people today following the loss of one of our own. Support in place and extensive investigation but a tough day for many. Thoughts with all who knew & loved Julia, RIP."
Officers from Kent's serious crime directorate are investigating the attack on Mrs James, who is believed to have worked in a domestic violence unit.
Tom Richards, an assistant chief constable, said "It is vitally important that anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday who may have seen something suspicious gets in touch.
"We are particularly keen to speak to those who regularly visit the area who may have seen something out of place and those who drove by who have dashcam footage."
Mrs James was found just three miles from where Lin Russell, 45, her two daughters, six-year-old Megan and nine-year-old Josie and their dog Lucy, were tied up and savagely beaten with a hammer in July 1996.
Lin, Megan and their dog were killed but Josie survived. Michael Stone was convicted of the murders and remains in prison.
They are keen to speak to anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday who may have seen something unusual or suspicious. They are urged to contact Kent Police on 0800 0514526. Anyone with video footage can submit it online by clicking here.