A colleague of murdered PCSO Julia James described her as a “ray of sunshine” and vowed that police “will not stop” until her killer is found.
Ms James, 53, was found dead in Akholt Wood near her home in the Kent village of Snowdown on Tuesday after suffering serious head injuries while out walking her dog.
Detectives said they are considering “all possible motives” and have not ruled out that Ms James was killed by a stranger, someone she had come across through her work, someone trying trying to steal her dog or as part of a sexual assault.
On Saturday officers were seen searching the verges of the woods where Ms James was found and a large police cordon remained in place.
In a park in nearby Aylesham village, family and friends have left flowers in memory Ms James, who had supported victims of domestic abuse while based at Canterbury police station.
Kelly Adsia, a PCSO from Canterbury, visited the tributes and told how colleagues were “completely in shock and completely numb”.
“We are just trying to focus on the amazing times we had with her, the laughs and the hugs, rather than what happened,” she said.
“She was so cheeky, funny and naughty. She would walk into the office and we would all be laughing. She was just like a ray of sunshine. She was just so wonderful and lovely. She was involved in so many people’s lives.”
Ms Adsia added that the Kent Police force “will not stop until we find whoever did this.”
“If they (the killers) knew Julia and met her for even five seconds they would not have done this – even if they had just said hello to her, they would not have done this.
“We want to remember her and not what has happened – that is what we want to focus on. We are never going to know (what happened) until somebody finds them.”
Among the floral tributes to Ms James was one addressed “to our beautiful niece Julia”.
It read: “No words can express our sadness. Our family has lost the most beautiful soul. In our hearts always. George and Jane.”
Ms James was off duty and not in uniform at the time of her death and there was no evidence that any of her possessions were missing. Her dog was found unharmed at the scene when police arrived.
Detectives refused to comment on any potential murder weapon or whether there were any signs of a struggle. The scene is just a few miles from the lane in Chillenden where Lin Russell and her six-year-old daughter, Megan, were attacked with a hammer in July 1996.
At a press conference on Friday, Kent Police’s assistant chief constable Tom Richards said no suspects had been identified.
Ms James’s family released a statement urging people to contact police to “get justice for Julia”.
“There are no words to adequately describe the void left in our lives by the death of our mum,” the family added.
“She was so much to so many people; a wife, mother, daughter, nanny, sister and a friend. Mum was fiercely loyal, she loved with her whole heart and nothing was too much trouble for the people she cared about.”
They added: “Her loss will be felt by us every moment of every day. She will be so sorely missed. As a family we are trying to understand how we will navigate our lives without her, it seems an impossible task.”
Additional reporting by Press Association