04/09/2014 11:42 BST | Updated 05/09/2014 03:59 BST

London Beheading: 82-Year-Old Victim Named After 'Man Goes On The Loose With A Machete'

UPDATE: Horrified Witness Describes How Suspect 'Was Shouting About Cats And Killed Animal'

Scotland Yard has named a woman beheaded in an attack in Edmonton, north London, today, as Palmira Silva, 82.

A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after Ms Silva, who is believed to be of Italian descent, was found "collapsed" in a back garden in north London.

The victim was found at an address in Nightingale Road, Edmonton, just after 1pm today after police received calls that a man was attacking an animal and car with a knife.

Scotland Yard have not confirmed if the attack was random, but emphasised it did not appear to have a terrorist motive.


Police on Nightingale Road, Edmonton

A local resident described seeing a man brandishing a machete and shouting about cats.

The eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said he also saw a headless cat as he watched the drama from his



The man said: "There was a scream so I went to the windows and saw a guy with a machete with blood dripping from it.

"We saw a cat on the floor without a head.

"He was standing in the garden and walking up and down shouting about cats. I don't know why he was looking for a cat."

Police officers distracted the man to stop him attacking anyone else while they evacuated houses, Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Letchford said.

He told reporters: "There were a number of people resident. What we do know is that this male has gone along a number of the back gardens of this premises.

"Officers who attended the scene have evacuated a number of those people from those premises to make them safe.

"During that period they distracted the man from carrying out any further attacks."

Scotland Yard said it was also investigating an attempted attack on two people at another house in the road before Ms Silva was killed.

A spokesman said: "At this stage we believe they were both able to get out of the house without injury."

Commander Letchford added that officers had smashed house windows to get people out after the man had been "cornered" in a house.

Metropolitan police said they are not yet prepared to comment on the exact nature of the woman’s injuries.

Commander Letchford called the attack on Ms Silva "very, very unusual" and said officer "still need to understand the motivation behind this attack."

A neighbour who knew the victim said she was "such a sweet lady" who still went to work every day in a nearby cafe.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "I've lived here since 1987 and I've known her since then.

"Her husband died about five years ago. I think she came from Italy originally.

"I was speaking to her yesterday. She was weeding in the front garden, she loved her gardening.

"She was sitting having a rest. I said 'You've been doing such hard work, your flowers are beautiful'. She said 'I know'.

"I think maybe today she was in the back garden.

"She was such a sweet lady. She was slow getting around but she still went to work. I think really after her husband died that's what kept her going.

The woman said she was "devastated" at the news.


A woman has been beheaded in a back garden

The arrested man is currently in hospital being treated for injuries suffered when he was arrested, police said.

Witnesses dramatically reported seeing the man in the area armed with a "machete."

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The area in Edmonton, North London

Residents nearby told of their shock. Restaurant worker Freda Odame, 30, said she was about to go to sleep after working a night shift when she heard a commotion at around 1pm.

She said: "I heard shouting and banging and I opened my curtains and saw a guy holding a knife in a back garden a few doors along.

"He was screaming, I couldn't make out the words. I could see he seemed aggressive. He looked a bit frantic."

She said the man, who was dressed all in black, was waving a weapon around towards the floor.

"It was like he was looking for something on the floor," she said.

"I was shaking and I just shut the curtains. I was worried he might see me.

"Then the police knocked on the door and said 'You've got to get out, you've got to get out'."

Another local resident Muhammed Yusuf said police knocked on the door and told him to "get out of the house."

His son Ahmed,19, said: "At first there were two police cars, then all of a sudden there were 20.

"The police said to drop everything. I said 'What's going on?' and they said there's a guy jumping over gardens."


Police on Nightingale Road

Edmonton MP Andy Love told the Evening Standard said he was "absolutely horrified and stunned" by the killing.

“This is a relatively solid community with relatively good relations between all of the people living there. It comes as a shock that it has happened," he said.

An ambulance was filmed parked outside one house on Nightingale Road, which was taped off and one of the front windows was smashed. A uniformed officer stood outside and scenes of crime personnel were gathered nearby.

It was not confirmed if that was the address where the incident happened.

Detective Chief Inspector John Sandlin, leading this investigation, said: "This was a highly visible attack in broad daylight on a residential street.

"I can understand why this may cause people concern, however we are confident that we are not looking for anyone else at this stage.

"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.

"Local officers and specialist detectives are at the scene and will remain there for many hours to come.

"Specially trained family liaison officers will be deployed to support the family; we request that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time."