Police say it will take days to identify women found in freezer

Detectives say it will take several days to identify the bodies of two women who were found in a freezer in an east London flat.

Post-mortem examinations will begin on the pair on Friday but are likely to take days due to the conditions in which they were found, police said.

They were discovered after officers were called to a ground floor flat in Vandome Close, Canning Town, on Friday amid concerns for the welfare of a “male occupant”.

Police said the apartment had been used by “transient members of the community” and linked to drugs.

Giving an update on the case on Wednesday, Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding said the crime scene was “one of the most challenging and complex” he has seen in 28 years.

So far two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder. A 34-year-old who remains in custody and a 50-year-old who has been released under investigation.

Mr Harding said: “I have encountered many crime scenes over 28 years and this one of the most challenging and complex to deal with.

“At the heart of this investigation are two women who were found inside this address and my primary focus is to identify them and inform their families.

“I can assure you that we are doing this as fast as is possible given the circumstances using a number of approved methods as part of formal identification processes.

“It is so important for these women’s families that we are 100 per cent sure who the victims are before we name them and I would respectfully ask that people refrain from speculation and attempts to confirm their identities while this work is ongoing – this is not helpful and accentuates an already distressing situation.

“The post-mortem examinations are scheduled to begin on Friday, May 3 but it is unlikely we will get a cause of death and a clearer picture of how these women died for some days given the challenging conditions in which they were found.”

He appealed for anyone who has visited the flat in the past year, or knows anyone who has, to come forward.

“I have a full homicide team working day and night on this case and we are continuing work to build up a comprehensive picture of activity that took place at this address in Vandome Close,” he said.

“We know it is a property that various people used to stay at, transient members of the community who moved from address to address. It is also linked to drug activity.

“It is too early to say whether either of our victims had a similar lifestyle and again I would ask people to be respectful and not speculate.

Two women dead in east London
Vandome Close in east London where two women have been found dead in a freezer

“I would appeal to anyone who has visited this address over the last year, or has information about people who frequented the property to come forward and speak to my team. I am aware that casts a wide net in terms of my appeal but we do need to build up an accurate picture of life at that flat and what occurred there.”

There are fears for mother Mary-Jane Mustafa, 37, who went missing last May.

Her family were seen at the flat on Tuesday as they desperately waited for information.

Her cousin, Ayse Hussein, 46, said: “If it is my cousin, it’s just going to be a waiting game. They just have to confirm it.

“How they have been found, they can’t just do it. It’s going to take days.”

The family said police are keeping them updated on developments but they still hope Ms Mustafa will be found alive.

Her older sister, Mel Mustafa, 47, said: “She is the most kind-hearted person you could meet and I still don’t believe it’s her.”

She added: “I wish the police would have listened to us earlier. They failed and I’m not scared to admit it anymore.”

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