Dog finds bone of dismembered woman, police still searching for torso

A dog is credited with the gruesome discovery of a woman who was allegedly butchered and dumped in a south London park.

Strolling through Rowdown Fields with his walker, the pup uncovered a human bone, which led to the massive search for body parts belonging to Sarah Mayhew.

Police – who have two suspects in custody – found partial remains of the Croydon woman scattered nearby but her torso is still missing. Keep reading to learn more about this tragic incident.

On April 2, Metropolitan (MET) Police were called to Rowdown Fields in south London after a dog walker realized his dog had found a human bone.

Launching a massive search of the area, police then located arms, legs, and a head, which was later identified by DNA as belonging to Sarah Mayhew, a 38-year-old from Croydon, England.

Referring to the continued search of Mayhew’s torso, officials say there is an “ongoing investigation in relation to the whereabouts of the entirety of the deceased’s body,” which “was certainly cut up in parts with use of power tools.”

The exact cause of her death is still unknown, however post-mortem examinations showed there were two small vertebrae broken in her voice box, with bruising to the skull. Her head was also shaved.

The suspects

On April 6, days after parts of Mayhew’s dismembered body were recovered, locals Gemma Saundercock (who also uses Watts as her surname), 48, and Steven Sansom, 44, were arrested charged with her murder and preventing her lawful and decent burial.

According to reports, it is alleged that the couple killed Mayhew at a residential property before using power tools to butcher her body into bits.  

Daily Mail reports the accused appeared separately, by video link, at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (frequently called “Old Bailey”) before Judge Philip Katz KC (King’s Counsel).

Saundercock, of New Addington, appeared first from Bronzefield prison, followed by Sansom, of Sutton, from Belmarsh Prison in south London. Both only spoke to confirm their identities and understanding of the charges.

In addition to his role in Mayhew’s murder, Sansom, who was wearing a grey prison tracksuit, also faces charges of making indecent images of a child. At this time, it is unknown if, and how, those charges are connected to Mayhew.

On Facebook, Sansom unapologetically goes by the name Red Rum, which fans of horror films might know from The Shining. The word “REDRUM” is scribbled on a door and when viewed in a mirror, it reads “MURDER.”

Also, Sansom and Saundercock are connected as friends on Facebook.

Last conversation with dad

According to Joel Smith KC, Old Bailey prosecutor, Mayhew – who was married in 2015 but listed as single on her Facebook site – was last seen alive on March 8, leaving someone’s house about 8 p.m. Before CCTV video placed her at a shop about 8:30 p.m. the same evening, she had a WhatsApp chat with her father, David.

“My thoughts are with Sarah’s family as they deal with this heartbreaking news,” said Detective Inspector Martin Thorpe of MET Police. “No family should have to lose a loved one in such tragic circumstances, and we will continue to provide our support as our investigation progresses.”

Meanwhile, her dad has not spoken publicly about the death of his daughter. But on April 7, the father acknowledged his crushing grief by changing his Facebook profile photo to an image where he’s seen with his daughter.

Family and friends leaped into the comments section offering their love and condolences to the man, who’s struggling with Mayhew’s vicious killing.

“Uncle David seeing you so broken is heartbreaking, thinking of you,” writes Annette Jutlay. “Omg David, I really don’t know what to say…condolences go out to you and the family, thinking of you mate,” shares a friend. A third writes, “I’m so sorry Dave for you and your family I’m shocked x.”

Judge Katz set a plea hearing for June 27 and a provisional four-week trial starting February 17, 2025.

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