British police confirmed Friday that they had identified the body of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, whose disappearance while walking home in London sparked an outpouring across social media from women sharing their own experiences of sexual assault and harassment.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service authorized police to charge a serving Metropolitan Police officer with Everard’s murder and kidnapping on Friday, according to a statement from Rosemary Ainslie, the CPS’ head of special crime. The statement said the officer will appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on Saturday for his first hearing.
Detectives searching for the woman found a body in woodland in Kent on Wednesday evening, said Nick Ephgrave, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. “I can now confirm that it is the body of Sarah Everard.”
“A man remains in custody at a London police station on suspicion of committing those crimes,” Ephgrave said. A post-mortem examination will now take place on Everard’s remains.
Everard disappeared on March 3 while walking in Clapham, south London, prompting an extensive police search in the area.
Her remains were eventually found more than 50 miles from where she was last seen. A police officer whose “primary role was uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises” was arrested in Kent on Tuesday evening.
On Friday, Everard’s family described her as a “shining example” who was “kind and strong” as they appealed for anyone with information to help detectives.
“Sarah was bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour,” her family said.
On Thursday, the police watchdog said in a statement that it had started an independent investigation into police actions involving the suspect.
“I know that the public feels hurt and angry about what has happened. And those are sentiments that I share personally, and I know my colleagues here at Scotland Yard and across the Met share as well,” Ephgrave said on Friday.
Everard’s disappearance prompted thousands of women to share their own experiences of intimidation or harassment while walking alone at night in British cities and around the world.
Many also exchanged notes on the habitual precautions they take to try to stay safe when they walk alone – and voiced their anger and frustration that this feels necessary.
“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,” Ephgrave said Friday, adding that Londoners could expect to see a rise in officers on the street in the coming days.
A “Reclaim These Streets” vigil has been organized via Facebook for 6 p.m. Saturday on Clapham Common, a green space Everard walked near at around 9 p.m. as she headed toward her home in Brixton.
It is unclear whether the event can legally go ahead, given the UK’s current Covid-19 restrictions banning public gatherings. Organizers have said police have reversed the position and would not allow it to take place, a move they are challenging in the courts.
CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark contributed reporting