(AP) — A British police officer
pleaded guilty Friday to murdering a 33-year-old woman as she walked home from a friend's house
in south London.
previously admitted kidnapping and raping Sarah Everard
, a marketing executive who went missing on March 3. Couzens pleaded guilty to murder during a hearing at London's Central Criminal Court, appearing via video link from Belmarsh high-security prison
was discovered in woodland more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of London, prompting a major police investigation
The search for Everard and the news
of her death
sparked a national outcry, with women
sharing stories of being threatened, attacked, or simply facing the everyday fear of violence while walking alone.
Police in the United Kingdom
's capital were chastised after detaining some women attending a vigil for Everard for violating coronavirus
Couzens, 48, joined the Metropolitan Police
in 2018 and was most recently assigned to the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, an armed unit in charge of guarding embassies in the capital and Parliament.
Couzens abducted Everard, a complete stranger, in a rented car, according to Prosecutor Tom Little, and her body was discovered in woods near Couzens' property. Despite his guilty plea, prosecutors said Couzens has not revealed where he raped and killed Everard.
“We still don’t know what drove him to commit this heinous crime
against a stranger,” said Carolyn Oakley of the Crown Prosecution Service
isn’t the day to hear the facts
about what happened to Sarah; it’s a day to remember Sarah, and our thoughts are with her family
Couzens will be sentenced on September 29 during a two-day hearing.
The police force has expressed shock and horror at his crime, but it faces an investigation by the policing watchdog into how it handled an allegation of indecent exposure against Couzens just days before Everard was abducted.