Police hunting for ‘murdered’ wealthy pensioner discover human remains in north London churchyard


Detectives investigating the suspected murder of a wealthy pensioner have found her remains in a north London churchyard after more than a year of searching.

Norma Girolami, 70, from Highgate, was last seen alive in mid-August 2021, when she vanished from her £900,000 home in the quiet tree-lined street of Cholmeley Park.

Metropolitan Police detectives recovered human remains on Wednesday after searching the grounds of St Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church in North Finchley, Barnet. 

Norma Girolami had not been seen by family or friends since August, and was reported missing on September 20

The scene is four miles from Ms Girolami’s home, which is situated in an upmarket suburban area near Hampstead Heath.

A ‘no body’ murder investigation was launched in October 2021 after it was deemed that there was a lack of ‘proof of life’. 

Serkan Kaygusuz, 42, was arrested and charged with Ms Girolami’s murder in the same month. He is currently in custody awaiting trial.

Metropolitan Police detectives recovered human remains on Wednesday after searching the grounds of St Katherine's Greek Orthodox Church in North Finchley, Barnet (picture taken on Wednesday, November 2)

Metropolitan Police detectives recovered human remains on Wednesday after searching the grounds of St Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church in North Finchley, Barnet (picture taken on Wednesday, November 2)

Police outside Elm Court, Cholmeley Park, Highgate, where Ms Girolami was last seen (picture taken on October 4 2021)

Police outside Elm Court, Cholmeley Park, Highgate, where Ms Girolami was last seen (picture taken on October 4 2021)

Police previously searched several addresses before discovering her body at the graveyard.

The remains found have been formally identified as being that of Norma Girolami and her family has been notified by detectives. They are set to undergo forensic examination.

The Met previously said Ms Girolami, whose family are from Italy, liked to visit the seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, and made a trip there on Thursday, August 19 2021. 

She took the train from Barking and returned to her home in leafy Highgate later that day. All communication from her ceased that evening.

 

Police at the scene in north London searched a churchyard on Wednesday as they looked for the remains of Ms Girolami, missing since August 2021 (picture taken on Wednesday, November 2)

Police at the scene in north London searched a churchyard on Wednesday as they looked for the remains of Ms Girolami, missing since August 2021 (picture taken on Wednesday, November 2)

The remains found in the graveyard have been formally identified as being that of Norma Girolami and her family has been notified by detectives (picture taken on Wednesday, November 2)

The remains found in the graveyard have been formally identified as being that of Norma Girolami and her family has been notified by detectives (picture taken on Wednesday, November 2)

A blue crime scene tent was spotted in the grounds of St Katherine's Greek Orthodox Church on Friern Barnet Lane on Wednesday (picture taken on Wednesday, November 2)

A blue crime scene tent was spotted in the grounds of St Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church on Friern Barnet Lane on Wednesday (picture taken on Wednesday, November 2)

A black screen was put up around a large section of the graveyard while police searched the area in Friern Barnet on Wednesday

A black screen was put up around a large section of the graveyard while police searched the area in Friern Barnet on Wednesday

Ms Girolami regularly traveled to Brent Cross to do her shopping and used public transport to make her way there. She was also a member at Archway Leisure Centre. 

She has been described as ‘friendly, courteous and a very nice person’ by shocked neighbours.

The Met previously said Ms Girolami liked to visit the seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, and made a trip there on Thursday, August 19 2021

The Met previously said Ms Girolami liked to visit the seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, and made a trip there on Thursday, August 19 2021

After her disappearance her cousin, Jack Girolami, told the Standard how alarm bells started ringing after she had not responded to a text message in August.

He said at the time: ‘We are worried sick, this is totally out of character for Norma. We thought she may have gone to Italy where the family are from to spread her dad’s ashes but we don’t think that is the case now.

‘She was very comfortably off, wealthy but not mega rich. She sold a house in Highgate and inherited her dad’s house in Enfield. She was also a bit gullible and was trusting in people which is a bit worrying.’

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn said the investigation into her disappearance is ongoing and urged anyone with information to contact police.

She said: ‘Despite accepting that Norma was no longer alive, I know that her family are deeply affected by the news that her remains have been found. Our thoughts are very much with them.

‘My team has spent more than a year searching for Norma and there is a sense of relief that we have found her remains which will undergo forensic examination in due course.

‘Despite this discovery, I would still be very keen to hear from anyone who knew Norma, either in London or at Leigh-on-Sea who can provide information on anything that was happening in her life in August last year.

‘I am also appealing for anyone who saw any activity around the Churchyard in Friern Barnet Lane, N20 between August and October last year.

‘Norma’s family and friends have endured a year of not knowing what had happened to her and our investigation remains ongoing.

A policeman at the rear of Elm Court, Cholmeley Park, Highgate, the home of 70-year-old Norma Girolami

A policeman at the rear of Elm Court, Cholmeley Park, Highgate, the home of 70-year-old Norma Girolami

The churchyard is located four miles from Ms Girolami's £900,000 home in Cholmeley Park

The churchyard is located four miles from Ms Girolami’s £900,000 home in Cholmeley Park

Norma Girolami, 70, from Highgate, was last seen alive in mid-August 2021, when she vanished from her £900,000 home in Cholmeley Park

Norma Girolami, 70, from Highgate, was last seen alive in mid-August 2021, when she vanished from her £900,000 home in Cholmeley Park

‘If you have any information, no matter how small a detail it may seem, please do get in touch.’

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Tweet @MetCC.

If you prefer not to speak with police and wish to remain anonymous call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit Crimestoppers-uk.org. 



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