NEIGHBOURS told of their horror at discovering a stranger pacing on their driveway could have been Zara Aleena’s “killer”.
“Bubbly” aspiring lawyer Zara, 35, was attacked by a man who allegedly “came at her from behind” in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Cops have arrested a 29-year-old man on suspicion of her murder.
Now, a neighbour has described watching a man from her bedroom window pacing across a driveway on the night Zara was killed in Ilford, East London.
She believes the same man attacked aspiring lawyer Zara as she walked home from a night out around 2.40am.
Zara’s body was discovered by a dog walker shortly after, the neighbour added.
The resident – who asked not to be named – said: “There was a man pacing up and down the driveway of the house opposite, we thought he was drunk.
“He was on the drive next to a white car that was parked there and was looking down at something.
“We didn’t see anything other than him, but he was stumbling around on the drive and we thought he was drunk.
“We were watching out of the window, I was in my bedroom the whole time.
“What shocked me is that it was so quiet.
“We’ve heard from other residents that he came from behind her and put his hand on her mouth.
“Maybe that’s why we didn’t hear anything.”
Shortly after, the couple noticed neighbours were gathered on the street looking at something – and her husband went out to investigate.
The neighbour added: “My husband went out as he saw people standing there looking at something, I was looking from my bedroom window.
“He went out to see if the man was still there and saw the state of her but I don’t want to describe it.
“It was two or three people standing there, then I heard my husband shouting.
“Then he phoned an ambulance.”
Medics battled for two hours to save the girl, the resident claimed.
Another neighbour – who lives opposite the attack and provided CCTV to cops – told the Times: “The guy came from the back, he was following her.
“It happened on the main road. He punched her a few times.”
Zara’s friend Lisa earlier took to Facebook to share the pair’s final text exchange – in which Zara said she “can’t wait” to see her pal next weekend.
Lisa wrote on Facebook: “I am completely broken.
“My best friend – for the past 17 years – Zara Aleena was murdered last night by a complete stranger.
“I am shocked, I am angry, I feel sick to my stomach.
“We spent most weekends together. We were meant to be together this weekend but I had to cancel and arranged to meet next weekend.
“Our last message was on Friday. I wish I had met her this weekend. She got f***ing murdered walking home!
“I will never see her again. I will never hear her voice again.
“We always spoke everyday. I will never get over this ever.
She also shared a screen grab of the pair’s last WhatsApp message exchange.
Zara said: “Miss your beautiful face this weekend. Can’t wait to see you next weekend.”
The attack on Zara has been likened to the tragic murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.
Cops don’t believe any weapons were used in the attack.
Zara’s cousin, who asked not to be named, told the Daily Mail that she had been working at the Royal Courts of Justice as an administration officer while searching for a job as a trainee solicitor.
I am completely broken. My best friend – for the past 17 years – Zara Aleena was murdered last night by a complete stranger.
Zara’s friend Lisa
“She was a lovely person. It’s such a shock for the family”, he said.
He called the law graduate “bubbly” and said she “brought life to the room”.
A GoFundMe has been set up for a local memorial to murdered Zara.
Met Police Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell said: “Zara, who lived locally, was walking along Cranbrook Road in the direction of Gants Hill Station when she was assaulted.
“It is now believed that she was the victim of an opportunist stranger attack.
“Tackling violence against women and girls is an absolute priority for the Met.
“Every day our officers are working with partners across the capital to improve safety in our public spaces.
The force is urging anyone who was in the Cranbrook Road area of Ilford between 2am and 3am on Sunday to contact them.
Anyone with information or relevant footage is asked to call the police’s major incident room on 0208 345 3715.
Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online via crimestoppers-uk.org
Source: The Sun