The Anglican church has said prayers and thoughts are with the parents of two sisters discovered dead in a London park on Sunday (June 7).
Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, were found unresponsive after police were called to Fryent Country Park in Wembley.
Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended and they were pronounced dead at the scene. A post-mortem examination conducted on Tuesday (June 9) gave the cause of death for both women as stab wounds.
Specially trained police officers are now supporting parents Chris and Wilhelmina Smallman, known as Mina, who live in Ramsgate.
Mina is a retired British Anglican priest who had served as the Archdeacon of Southend in the Diocese of Chelmsford. She was the first BAME woman to be an archdeacon in the Church of England,
She was also appointed as a trustee to Ramsgate’s Project MotorHouse in 2017 and helped devise its youth mentoring programme.
In a statement issued yesterday (June 10) Acting Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Peter Hill said: “We are devastated to hear of the tragic deaths of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry in North London at the weekend.
“Nicole and Bibaa were the daughters of our former Archdeacon and good friend Mina Smallman. This is heart breaking news and the thoughts and prayers of everyone at Chelmsford Diocese are with Mina and her family. We ask that their privacy is respected and for everyone’s prayers at this most difficult of times.”
Nicole, who lived in Harrow, and Bibaa, who lived in Brent, were in a group of people who congregated in the park from around 7pm on Friday, June 5 to celebrate Bibaa’s birthday.
Gradually people are believed to have left throughout the evening, by midnight only Nicole and Bibaa remained.
They were both reported as missing to police late on Saturday, June 6 when they did not return home, before they were discovered on Sunday.
Detectives from the Specialist Crime Command (Homicide) are investigating, with the assistance of officers from the North West Command Unit.
There have been no arrests, but detectives are following a number of active lines of enquiry.
Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, said: “Both these women were stabbed multiple times and we are working tirelessly to find who is responsible.
“Their families have been devastated by their loss and they need and deserve answers.”
Police have made an appeal for anyone with information to come forward by calling police on 101 or tweet @MetCC quoting CAD 3160/7Jun.
UPDATE June 12: Met Police say detectives have identified significant new lines of enquiry and are urgently appealing to the public to help find their attacker.
Officers are now confident Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry were killed by someone who was a stranger to them.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, Specialist Crime, said: “This is an unthinkably harrowing and tragic incident and my first thoughts remain with Nicole and Bibaa’s close family and friends who are going through the most unimaginable pain and suffering.
“There have been a number of factors involved in both the incident and the aftermath which have required extra time and care in enabling us to create a clear picture of what has taken place. But what we can now say with some certainty is that Nicole and Bibaa were murdered by someone who was unknown to them.
“Enquiries continue at pace, and an ongoing extensive search of what is a significant crime scene – including a pond – continues to yield evidence. My officers are also currently trawling through hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rubbish from a local refuse depot in search of items of relevance to the investigation, which we believe were accidentally cleared from the scene when mistaken for rubbish.”
“Whilst we tirelessly work to identify the individual responsible I am asking the public for their help with two points:
“We believe the suspect received injuries during the incident which have caused significant bleeding. Do you know anyone who has been wounded in the last week who is unable to account for their injuries? Has someone returned home and perhaps acted suspiciously or tried to hide something from you?
“We also believe the suspect left the park via the Valley Drive entrance. Did you see anyone acting suspiciously in that vicinity during the evening of Friday into early hours of Saturday? You may have noticed someone who was injured.
“If you have information on either of these specific appeal points – no matter how insignificant it may seem – please contact us. At this stage we don’t know why this awful attack took place and any information we can gather will help us further put the pieces of the jigsaw together.”