Three arrests have been made after a man’s body was found in woodland in Essex as police investigate whether two people were taken against their will.
The body is believed to be that of a man in his 40s who had gone missing from an address in north London along with a woman in her 30s who has since been found physically unharmed.
The pair were known to each other, the Metropolitan Police said.
The force described its investigation as a “very complex and fast-moving” one, but said a “key line in the investigation is that the man and woman were taken against their will in a vehicle” on Thursday.
The man’s body was discovered in woodland near the Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate in Loughton at around 11.55am on Saturday.
Officers were called on Friday afternoon to reports that the man and woman were missing from an address in Ebony Crescent, Barnet, north London, after they had last been seen the night before.
Essex Police, which initially investigated, confirmed on Sunday that Scotland Yard has taken over the probe as the man is believed to have died in the area for which the Met is responsible.
A post-mortem examination and formal identification of the body will take place in due course, the Met said.
Three men were arrested in the Kent area on suspicion of murder and remain in police custody.
Officers have urged people who were in the Ebony Crescent area on Thursday to contact police if they remember seeing anything suspicious, with residents asked to check doorbell cameras and motorists asked to look at dashcam footage.
DCI Kate Kieran said her team is “working 24/7 to establish exactly what has happened”.
She said: “This is a very complex and fast-paced investigation involving multiple units across the MPS [Met police service]as well as invaluable support from our colleagues at Essex Police.
“While the investigation is still at an early stage, a key line of inquiry is that the man and woman were taken against their will in a vehicle on Thursday night.”
She said a police presence would remain in the Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate area for the coming days, assuring London and Essex residents that officers are “doing absolutely everything we can to understand the chain of events here and bring those responsible to justice “.
Solicitor General Rob Kirby, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “The Met Police will now take the lead in this investigation but we will continue to support them. Road closures will remain in the area while inquiries at the scene continue.”