An 85-year-old woman has been found dead in her home after a “cowardly assault”, police have said.
A handyman working at the address in Ashmour Gardens in Romford, east London, found the body of Rosina Coleman at about 11:30 BST on Tuesday.
Friends and neighbours described the mother of two as “the nicest person you could hope to meet” who was “always happy”.
Murder detectives have not yet made any arrests.
Det Insp Paul Considine, who is leading the investigation, said police believe Mrs Coleman was attacked between 07:30 and 11:30 on Tuesday.
He added: “This is a despicable incident in which the victim, an elderly lady who lived alone, had been subjected to a cowardly assault that left her with serious injuries.
“It is imperative that we find those responsible for this horrendous offence.”
Neighbours said Mrs Coleman had lived on the street for more than 40 years with her husband Bill, who died about 11 years ago.
Alan Mckeown, who lives on the adjacent street, said she was “the nicest person you could hope to meet”.
He said he would often pass Mrs Coleman while walking his dog and “she always wanted to have a good chat”.
He added: “I thought she must have had a heart attack or something. I didn’t dream of anything untoward like this.
“It’s barbaric, absolutely barbaric.”
Jackie Harwood, 72, said she used to meet Mrs Coleman on Saturdays at the local British Legion.
“She was a lovely person who was always happy, always dancing,” she added.
“She was popular and would cook bread pudding and bring it in for everyone. She would always talk about her family as well.”
At the scene: Rob Oxley, BBC Radio London
Forensics officers are still coming in and out of the semi-detached bungalow where Rosina Coleman lived alone.
Her neighbours tell me she was popular and well-liked.
Ashmour Gardens is a quiet residential street with children out playing on their bikes and people walking their dogs.
Those that stopped to talk said they were shocked something like this happened here.
Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said Mrs Coleman was a seamstress who sewed all of her own clothes and made a suit a week.
He added: “It’s such a sad thing. I can’t get my head around it. I can’t think of anybody that would want to harm her.”
A police forensics tent has been erected in the garden of the property, with a tarpaulin sheet drawn across one of the glass windows.
Officers have also searched nearby drains and bushes.
A post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out on Thursday.