Woman, 82, beheaded by ‘machete-wielding’ attacker
Palmira Silva was found in the back garden of the property in Edmonton, north London, at just after 1pm.
Armed police later arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of her murder, Scotland Yard said.
Police said they did not believe there was a terrorist motive but said inquiries were at an early stage.
They added that there was nothing to suggest Ms Silva, who was pronounced dead at the scene, knew her attacker.
The man is in hospital under armed guard being treated for injuries suffered when he was arrested, police said.
A Taser was used during the arrest and a firearms officer suffered a broken wrist.
Detective Chief Inspector John Sandlin 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.”
Scotland Yard said officers were initially called to reports of a man armed with a knife and eyewitnesses said he had attacked an animal, possibly a cat or a dog.
They refused to comment on reports from eyewitnesses that a man was seen in the area with a bloodstained machete.
Police said they had traced the victim’s next of kin but were unwilling to speculate on the nature of Ms Silva’s injuries or the type of weapon used.
According to Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Letchford, officers distracted the man to stop him attacking anyone else while they evacuated houses in the area.
He said: “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 these premises.
“Officers who attended the scene evacuated a number of those people from those premises to make them safe.”
Resident Muhammed Yusuf last night described the moment police appeared at his door.
He said: “They just said, ‘You’ve got to get out of the house’. Of course I was worried.”
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?’ They said there was a guy jumping over gardens.”
Another neighbour on Nightingale Road, restaurant worker Freda Odame, 30, said she was about to go to sleep after a night shift when she heard lots of noises in the street. 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 in black, was waving a weapon around.
“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’.”
Cmdr Letchford said officers also smashed windows to get people out of properties close to the scene after the suspect had been “cornered” in a house. He said: “They (the officers) were aware of what had happened and put themselves in extreme danger to protect the public.”