Human remains found at cemetery identified as wealthy London pensioner who went missing more than a year ago

4 November 2022, 11:33 | Updated: 4 November 2022, 14:57

Police launched a murder investigation
Police launched a murder investigation. Picture: Met Police/Google Maps

By Will Taylor

Human remains found at a churchyard in North London have been identified as a woman who went missing more than a year ago.

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Norma Girolami, 70, of Highgate, went missing on August 19 2021 and a murder investigation was started.

She had travelled to Leigh-on-Sea, where she enjoyed visiting, by taking the train from Barking and returning to London later in the day.

However, all communication from Ms Girolami stopped in the evening. Her fridge in her £900,000 apartment home still had food in the fridge when she vanished.

Her body was found at St Katherine's church in Friern Barnet Lane.

Read more: Three people stabbed after 'group fight in the street' near London tube station

Her remains have been found weeks after a £20,000 reward for information was posted by police. A man had been charged with her murder and is due to go on trial next year.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "Despite accepting that Norma was no longer alive, I know that her family are deeply affected by the news that her remains have been found. Our thoughts are very much with them.

Norma's remains were found in a churchyard
Norma's remains were found in a churchyard. Picture: Metropolitan Police

"My team has spent more than a year searching for Norma and there is a sense of relief that we have found her remains which will undergo forensic examination in due course.

"Despite this discovery, I would still be very keen to hear from anyone who knew Norma, either in London or at Leigh on Sea who can provide information on anything that was happening in her life in August last year.

"I am also appealing for anyone who saw any activity around the Churchyard in Friern Barnet Lane, N20 between August and October last year.

"Norma's family and friends have endured a year of not knowing what had happened to her and our investigation remains ongoing. If you have any information, no matter how small a detail it may seem, please do get in touch."

Reports near the time of her disappearance said detectives investigating her death believed she could have been targeted for her money by a love interest in a possible romance fraud.

Ms Girolami, who made her wealth from a property portfolio, never married, had no children and lived alone, but was active within her church and community.

Messages were sent to friends saying the fluent Italian speaker, who would visit her father’s hometown Fanna in northeast Italy, was fine and on holiday when she disappeared.

Her cousin, Jack Girolami, described her as "trusting".

When she vanished, the 67-year-old said: "We are worried sick, this is totally out of character for Norma. We thought she may have gone to Italy where the family are from to spread her dad's ashes but we don't think that is the case now.

"She was very comfortably off, wealthy but not mega rich. She sold a house in Highgate and inherited her dad's house in Enfield. She was also a bit gullible and was trusting in people which is a bit worrying."

A hairdresser at a salon Ms Girolami used to frequent said she was "no fool".

"She was very friendly but she wasn’t a pushover — not that type at all."

She would travel to Brent Cross to shop regularly and used public transport to get there.

Ms Girolami was also a member at Archway Leisure Centre.

Anyone with information about what happened to her can contact police on 101, tweet @MetCC or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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