City police are starring in a tragic Channel 4 documentary in a bid to encourage more victims of domestic abuse to speak to them.
Catching a Killer describes how staying with a manipulative and bullying partner cost mum-of-three Natalie Hemming her life in May last year.
For the first time, police speak out about how they knew almost instantly that Natalie’s partner Paul had killed her – but it took them three gruelling weeks to find where he had hidden the body.
“He lied from the outset. He insisted Natalie had arrived home, then he went to bed, and when he woke up in the morning she was missing,” said Major Crime Detective Superintendent Simon Steel.
In fact, within hours of the missing person’s report, Simon and his team had gathered vital evidence that Paul Hemming’s car left their Newton Leys driveway at 10pm on the last day she was seen.
They knew he left Natalie’s three young children alone in the house for several hours while he drove along country roads to Aylesbury, then on the A41 towards London.
The clincher came when police found traces of Natalie’s blood on the floor of her living room and more in the boot of Paul Hemming’s car.
Hemming was charged within days of murder, but it took three weeks before her body was found dumped in Hertfordshire woodland.
“It was an extremely tragic case and we will do everything possible to stop this happening to other victims of domestic abuse,” said DS Steel. “We are asking them to please talk to us. We will always listen.”
“We agreed to do the documentary in the hope that other people out there might recognise the signs of domestic abuse and report it to us before, as in the tragic case of Natalie, it is too late.”
Murderer Paul Hemming was already known by a neighbouring police force for reports of domestic abuse involving at least two previous partners.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in November 2016 for murdering Natalie, the mum of his two children. The minimum term he must service is 20 years.
See DS Steel and his team, together with interviews with Natalie’s family, tonight (Thursday) on Channel 4 at 9pm. Or watch it on catch up via All 4 afterwards.