LONDON – The suspected abduction and murder of a young London woman as she walked home has dismayed Britain and revived a painful question: Why are women too often not safe on the streets?
The fate of Sarah Everard is all the more shocking because the suspect charged Friday with abducting and killing her is a U.K. police officer whose job was protecting politicians and diplomats.
Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, set out on the 50-minute walk home from a friend’s house in south London at about 9 p.m. on March 3. She never arrived. On Friday police confirmed that a body found hidden in woodland 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of the city is hers.
London police arrested a member of the force's Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command on Tuesday as a suspect in the case. Late Friday police charged the officer, Constable Wayne Couzens, with kidnapping and murder. Couzens, 48, was due to appear in court on Saturday.
In a statement issued Thursday, Everard’s family said “our beautiful daughter Sarah was taken from us and we are appealing for any information that will help to solve this terrible crime.”
“I know that the public feel hurt and angry about what has happened, and those are sentiments I share personally,” said Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave,
Everard’s disappearance and killing has caused a nationwide outcry, with thousands appealing on social media for information to help find her. Women also then began sharing experiences of being threatened or attacked — or simply facing the everyday fear of violence when walking alone.
“When she went missing, any woman who has ever walked home alone at night felt that grim, instinctive sense of recognition,” columnist Gaby Hinsliff wrote in The Guardian. “Footsteps on a dark street. Keys gripped between your fingers. There but for the grace of God.”