Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Saturday, 6 June 2009 11:19 UK

Killer 'may have raped two more'

Murdered rape victim Michelle Samaraweera
Miss Samaraweera was last seen at a Somerfield shop at about 0100 BST

A man who raped and murdered a woman in east London may have raped two more women nearby earlier this year, police have said.

Michelle Samaraweera, 35, was raped and strangled on 30 May. Her body was found in Queens Road park in Walthamstow.

Police believe the same man may have raped a 59-year-old woman near Queens Road in March and a 46-year-old woman in nearby Whipps Cross in April.

He is described as Asian, or with dark skin, and aged between 30 and 45 years.

'Callously murdered'

Miss Samaraweera's body was found by a passer-by in the park and play area at 0550 BST on 30 May.

She was last seen alive at a nearby Somerfield shop five hours earlier.

Det Sup Vic Rae said: "Michelle was callously murdered as she returned to her boyfriend's address and it's essential we trace the man responsible as soon as possible."

Four men aged between 29 and 35 were arrested in connection with the inquiry.

Two were released on bail and no further action will be taken against the other two men.

Police linked Miss Samaraweera's death to the rape of the 59-year-old woman, who was attacked near Queens Road while walking home at around 0100 GMT on 24 March.

We do urge women in the area to remain vigilant, particularly if walking alone at night
Ch Supt Mark Benbow

The suspect was standing nearby as she approached her front door, police said.

She walked around him but as she entered her home he forced his way inside, raping her in her bedroom.

They are also linking her death to the rape of the 46-year-old in Lea Bridge Road, Whipps Cross, at around 0100 BST on 22 April.

The victim in that incident was walking along the road when the suspect attempted to talk to her, police said.

He then forced her into a nearby alleyway, where he raped her.

The suspect then fled, warning the woman not to leave the scene.

Waltham Forest police have increased patrols in the area since Miss Samaraweera's murder.

Ch Supt Mark Benbow said: "We do urge women in the area to remain vigilant, particularly if walking alone at night.

"We are also keen to hear from anyone who may have information about the suspect or who may have been approached in similar circumstances."



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