A murder probe has been launched after the body of a film producer who has worked with Joan Collins and Sheridan Smith was found in a shallow grave at her £400,000 home two days after she was reported missing.
Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, was found buried in the garden of her house on a tree-lined street in the wealthy suburb of Kew in south-west London.
Police launched a missing persons inquiry after the PR executive assistant and lifestyle blogger – a French national – failed to turn up to work on Monday.
She was last seen alive on Saturday night at a Sainsbury’s, a few streets away from where she lived on Darell Road. A hunt has now been launched for her killer but so far there have been no arrests.
A neighbour told how he saw Ms Garcia-Bertaux with a ‘scruffy looking geezer’ days before she went missing.
Paul Watkins, 63, said he saw her walking her Rottweiler and Husky dog in a park near her home. He said: ‘She was usually on her own when she walked her dogs and we would stop and chat, mostly about the dogs.
‘Last Wednesday I saw her as I was leaving and she was with this scruffy looking geezer. He was 5ft 10 and was holding one of the dogs by a lead. I did not speak to him’.
Meanwhile, a producer who worked with Ms Garcia-Bertaux on a number of projects – including the short film Gerry with Joan Collins and Tower Block with Sheridan Smith and Jack O’Connell – said she was ‘absolutely devastated’ to hear of her friend’s death.
Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, a 34-year-old PR executive assistant from Richmond on Thames, was reported missing after she failed to turn up to work on Monday
A blue forensics tent was erected near to where Ms Garcia-Bertaux’ body was discovered last night. A police cordon has been erected sealing off the area
Laureline (pictured) was last seen alive on Saturday night at a Sainsbury’s, a few streets away from where she lived on Darell Road. So far there have been no arrests
The property on Darell Road in Kew, south west London, where Laureline Garcia-Bertaux was found in a shallow grave in the garden
In June last year Ms Garcia-Bertaux posted on Instagram about her joy of working with Joan Collins on the short film Gerry
Producer Hester Ruoff, who spoke to her close friend hours before she was reported missing, told The Telegraph: ‘Laureline was incredibly loyal – she had my back 100 per cent. She would give up her contacts for the benefit of the film, which is just so very, very rare in the industry.
‘She became so much more than my line producer, she became a very close friend. She was just so spirited and very loyal and when you find someone like that you do everything you can not to let them go.’
Ms Garcia-Bertaux’s profile on the film industry website IMDb said she was born on November 25, 1984, in Aix-en-Provence in southern France and had lived in Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean.
She began performing at an early age before developing an interest in street dance, modern jazz, ballet and belly dancing.
Ms Garcia-Bertaux, who had a Rottweiler named Jazz, had been a dancer for almost 20 years. She performed in a cover band called The Tams and wrote her own music.
She was also a dog lover, and in her final post last month she wrote: ‘Every morning I’m struggling to get out of bed for this one! It’s so hard to resist to cuddle him.’
Her neighbour Mr Watkins said he had been told others living nearby had previously complained about her two dogs barking.
One in her 60s said: ‘She lived there for about 18 months – you barely saw her, but you could hear her.
‘She always spoke in French and was very loud, chatting on the phone at all hours. I used to see her walking her dogs, one rottweiler and one husky, they were beautiful, they didn’t make a lot of noise.
‘She was on her own as far as I’m aware, I never saw anyone coming in an out apart from her.
Forensic teams at the home on Darell Road in Kew, south-west London where the body of Laureline Garcia-Bertaux was found
Detectives can be seen walking around the crime scene with clipboards – as police patrol the surrounding area. Pictured: Forensic teams
Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, (pictured) from Richmond, was reported missing after she did not turn up for work on Monday
A map showing where Ms Garcia-Bertaux was last seen at a Sainsbury’s supermarket, and where her body was found at her home in Darell Road, less than half a mile away
Another neighbour said: ‘There’s not much I can say other than she was nice enough, I used to say hello. She lived alone I think. Nobody else was there but the dogs, she loved them.’
A single reclinable sofa chair could be seen outside the terraced house where the victim was believed to have lived.
The small front garden of the two-storey open brick house, worth more than £800,000 and which had been split into two flats, was overgrown with grass and plants.
The murder scene lies just 30 foot from Darell Primary and Nursey School.
Police forensics remove items from athe property on Darell Road in Kew, south-west London where the body of Laureline Garcia-Bertaux was found in a shallow grave
Detectives can be seen walking around the crime scene with clipboards – as police patrol the surrounding area.
Neighbour Bob Bassett, 75, said that he knew of Ms Garcia-Bertaux, and would speak to her about her two large dogs.
‘She was quiet. I never saw a boyfriend,’ he said, adding that as far as he knows she lived in the ground-floor flat alone, and was originally from France.
Another neighbour who did not want to be named said he had previously seen her with a leonberger – a large breed of dog.
He said others on the street have told him they had seen a man visiting the property ‘now and again’, and added: ‘I did not see her very much.’
A large police cordon has been put in place around the scene in Darell Road which extends to cover the garden and passageway area at the back of the terraced property.
With the noise of playing children echoing from a nearby school, forensics officers in blue suits could be seen erecting a large tent, with evidence markers visible down the narrow alley between a number of homes.
Although formal identification has not taken place, Laureline’s family have been informed of developments and are being supported by specially trained officers.
On her social media profiles Ms Garcia-Bertaux described herself as a line producer for short films, an executive assistant, a PR and marketing worker and a lifestyle blogger and fashion stylist.
Her LinkedIn page said she had been working as an executive assistant at the London PR agency Golin since January.
She also founded a video and online production firm called Black Balloons Studios in October last year, and runs a fashion and lifestyle blog called Style & T.
Although formal identification has not taken place, Laureline’s family have been informed of developments and are being supported by specially trained officers
Forensics officers in blue suits could be seen erecting a large tent, with evidence markers visible down the narrow alley between a number of homes
A forensic tent was spotted in the garden of the house in Kew where the body of Ms Garcia-Bertaux was discovered
The profile said she moved to London in 2009 to pursue a career in the ‘creative industry’, aspiring to be a film director and screenwriter.
It said her film credits include the movies Tower Block, staring Sheridan Smith and Jack O’Connell, and Gerry, starring Joan Collins.
Joan Collins is pictured on the set for short film Gerry, which Ms Garcia-Bertaux worked on as a producer
In December she hinted that she had endured a tough year.
She wrote on Facebook: ‘I can clearly say that despite how bad this year has been! I’ve never felt closer to my friends and family!’
When she went missing she was said to visit the Twickenham area as well as Camden, north London, and the Dorset resort town of Bournemouth.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, from Richmond, was reported missing after she did not turn up for work on Monday.
‘During the late evening of Wednesday, officers located a body in a shallow grave in a garden in Darell Road, Kew.
‘Although formal identification has not taken place, Laurline’s family have been informed of developments and are being supported by specially trained officers.
‘A forensic crime scene is in place. A post-mortem examination will be held in due course. There have been no arrests.
‘A murder investigation has been launched by Detectives from the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command.
‘Any witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to call police.’
Police activity at the property on Darell Road in Kew, south-west London where the body of Ms Garcia-Bertaux was found in a shallow grave in the garden
On her social media profiles Ms Garcia-Bertaux described herself as a line producer for short films, an executive assistant, a PR and marketing worker and a lifestyle blogger and fashion stylist. The scene at her home is pictured
Her body was discovered in a garden in Darell Road (pictured) in Kew, south-west London. So far there have been no arrests