82-year-old Palmira Silva, who detectives believe is of Italian descent, was found beheaded at a house in a north London suburb on Thursday, British media reported, in an incident that police said did not appear to be terrorist related.
“Whilst it is too early to speculate on what the motive behind this attack was I am confident, based on the information currently available to me, that it is not terrorist related,” said Detective Chief Inspector John Sandlin who is leading the investigation.
Police said that a 25 year old man had been taken in to custody on suspicion of the murder. Officers at the scene said they had to use a stun gun. One officer suffered a suspected broken wrist during the arrest.
Prior to the murder there were two other people at a house on the same street that had the same encounter, but they escaped unharmed.
Another man who lives near the scene said he learned from other neighbors that a man carrying a machete had been seen in a series of back gardens on the road before the killing.
“My neighbor, who works nights, said she was woken by noise from a man in her back garden. He had a machete,” said Isik Saban.
The reported nature of the killing had prompted speculation that the murder might be a terrorism incident after last year’s gruesome murder of a British soldier in London, and the recent release of videos by Islamic State jihadists showing two U.S. journalists being beheaded apparently by a British national.