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The London police officer arrested in the disappearance of a 33-year-old woman has been identified as Wayne Couzens — whose duties include protecting the royal family, according to a report.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that one of its own was arrested late Tuesday at his home in Kent on suspicion of kidnapping.
The department added Wednesday that Couzens also being held on suspicion of murder and indecent exposure, The Sun reported.
The father of two, 48, is a diplomatic protection police officer based in Westminster, according to the report.
Sarah Everard, a marketing executive, went missing March 3 after leaving a friend’s house. She was last seen about 9:30 p.m. that night via a doorbell camera in Clapham, in southwest London, the BBC reported.
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin called Couzens’ arrest “a significant development” in the probe and said investigators were doing everything they could to find Everard.
Couzens, whose duties involved protecting members of the royal family at public events, joined the force about 10 years ago after previously working at a garage repairs business, according to The Sun.
“It is truly shocking that he has been arrested over Sarah’s disappearance,” a former colleague told the news outlet about the cop, whose locker at the police station in the Palace of Westminster was being searched.
Neighbor David Ladd, 48, told The Sun that he saw a cuffed Couzens being “escorted into the back of a police car” on Tuesday night.
A woman believed to be his partner also was arrested at the same location on suspicion of assisting an offender, according to the report.
Couzens’ stepmother Corrine Couzens told The Sun she couldn’t comment but added: “I’m aware of what’s happening.”
Assistant Police Commissioner Nick Ephgrave on Wednesday said “we really hope” Everard is still alive as the search continued.
“The arrest this evening is a serious and significant development,” Ephgrave said.
“We will continue to work with all speed on this investigation but the fact that the arrested man is a serving Metropolitan Police officer is both shocking and deeply disturbing,” he said.
The missing woman’s cousin Tom Everard expressed his hope that the arrest will help police locate her.
“I understand there will be significant public concern but it is essential that the investigative team are given the time and space to continue their work,” Ephgrave added.
“We’re hopeful this development will bring new information, but the police still need help to find Sarah and get her home safely,” he said, according to The Sun.
Meanwhile, one of Couzens’ neighbors said the officer lives with his “chatty” wife and two kids.
“They just seemed like a normal, regular family, there was nothing strange about them at all,” she told The Sun.
Pamela Cane, 77, who lives nearby, described them as “the perfect family.”
“I can’t believe this. The arrest is more shocking because he’s a police officer,” she said.
Homicide investigators are leading the probe, which is still being treated as a missing-person inquiry, the outlet reported.
“This is definitely a missing-person investigation at the moment but I remain open-minded as to all possibilities in the investigation,” police spokeswoman Katherine Goodwin said.
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