The body of a man who has been missing for nearly four weeks has been found hidden in a TREE in school grounds just yards from the front gate.
The man, believed to be missing person Peter Usher, 39, was discovered in a conifer tree at Bower Park Academy on Thursday after police spent weeks searching for him.
“Hundreds” of children at the secondary school near Romford, east London, are believed to have passed the body every day without noticing it.
The Met Police are thought to have known he was in the area for weeks but were unable to find him despite the use of sniffer dogs, according to a source.
At around 2pm on Thursday they made the grim discovery in the “dense” 25-foot-tall fir tree but waited until the academy’s 700 pupils had gone for the day until they removed it.
Head teacher Mary Morrison said: “The body has probably been there for weeks. It’s gone now. I’m really sorry for the family. It must be terribly sad for them.
“He was found about 2pm while all the children were in the school.
“He was in the tree right at the front of the school.
“I’m shocked none of us saw him. There’s over a thousand people on the site and no one saw anything.
“Thank god no children saw anything.
“It’s quite a dense tree but it’s bizarre that none of us saw anything.
“I’m glad no child is affected by all of this.
“The school is running as normal this morning.”
The folliage of the tree starts just a foot off the ground and is dense enough to conceal a body.
Forensic gloves were still at the base of the tree – which had been heavily cut away at – on Friday morning.
The body was discovered after police asked to see the school’s CCTV on Thursday, according to a source close to the school.
He said: “They have done a bit of a search of the school over the Christmas break because I think the police had tracked him back to the area through CCTV on buses.
“They knew he was near the school. They have been looking for him for weeks now.
“They came and asked to look at the school’s CCTV.
“From looking at the CCTV and doing another sweep of the grounds, apparently a dead body was find up a tree in the branches and within the foliage of the conifer tree.
“It is right in front of the school, right by the front gate. 800 people a day would have walked the those gates.
“They found it in the afternoon and left the body up there until the evening. They wanted everyone out of the school rather than bringing in the full shebang to remove the body.”
Peter Usher was last seen by friends at around 8am on December 29 at his home in Romford.
He is believed to have visited The Goose pub in Romford at 12.30pm that day.
A Met Police spokesman confirmed a body has been found in relation to the missing person appeal.
He said: “A body has been found in Bowers Park Academy on Havering Road.
“We believe we know the identity of the deceased but the family has not yet been informed.”
Friends paid tribute to “beautiful soul” Peter Usher, who is believed to have been found dead in a tree at a school.
Peter, believed to be a dad, was named locally today (Fri) as a man found dead in a tree on the grounds of Bower Park Academy, near Romford, east London.
A Facebook page set up to help track down Peter wrote today (Fri): “I am sorry to say Peter was found yesterday in bower park school.”
Cheryl Dent-mann wrote: “Gutted to hear this. Peter was a lovely bloke.”
Faye Simmons wrote: “May your beautiful soul rest in perfect paradise. I’m sorry for your loss.
“Such tragic news.”
Parents living near a school spoke of their shock as police confirmed the death was “non-suspicious”.
Mum Georgia Chasney, who lives directly opposite Bower Park Academy in Romford, east London, said: “I have kids, but they’re too young to go there.
“When I came back last night – it must’ve been at about eight o’clock – I saw two people carrying a body on a gurney.
“There was a sheet over it but I had no idea that they had just come out of the school. They were gone very quickly.”
Sian Douglas, another mum who also lives opposite the school, said: “My daughter had heard about it. I don’t know anything about it. She doesn’t go to that school. It’s very sad really.
“She just heard about it from friends.”
Another mum, who declined to be named, added: “I’m slightly shocked that the school is still open today.”
A Met spokesperson confirmed police found the body at around 2pm on Thursday and said: “It is being treated as non-suspicious.”
Police confirmed that the next of kin of the man found dead in a tree at a school were informed today (Fri) as friends paid tribute to “lovely bloke” Peter Usher.
Friends of Peter, 39, named him as the man found in a tree in Bower Park Academy, in Romford, east London.
Cheryl Dent said: “I have known him for a good few years. He used to go the same school as my brother.
“Whenever I saw him he was such a lovely bloke, he always stopped for a chat and he was very chatty. Well, he was with me anyway.
“I hadn’t seen him for about a year. The last time I saw him was at the swimming with his kids. He was lovely and seemed really happy.”
Danny Emberson said: “I used to live near him. I felt sick when I read what had happened. I was more friends with his brother Robert, but I did know that he was a lovely bloke.”
Simon Lovelock said: “He was a nice guy. He was always willing to help other people, I do know that much.
“He was just a kind and helpful bloke.
“I thought he must’ve gone on holiday without telling anybody or something like that – I never expected this.”
A spokesperson from Scotland Yard said: “The next of kin have been informed, but no formal ID has taken place yet.
“There is no news on the post-mortem as yet.”