Palmira Silva, a widow believed to be of Italian descent, was found at an address in Edmonton, north London just after 1pm after police received reports of a man with a knife in Nightingale Road.
Her attacker “had decapitated two cats in a quiet London street” before the attack, the Mirror reports. It quotes Ms Silva’s next-door neighbour describing events: “I heard lots of screaming and shouting next door. Then a guy with a knife was in our back garden.”
Other potential victims escaped in what appears to be a random attack, Sky sources say.
Police say they do not believe there is a terrorist motive but have not confirmed if Ms Silva, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was beheaded.
Sky reported: “They haven’t confirmed that the woman has been beheaded, refusing at this stage to discuss the injuries she’s suffered.
“But we are on very good sources reporting the fact that the woman was found decapitated and police are certainly not telling us that we’re wrong in doing that.”
Witnesses reported seeing a man running around the area as police arrived and he was seen attacking a car.
The first report police received said a man was attacking an animal, a cat or a dog.
One local resident, who did not want to be named, described seeing a man brandishing a machete and shouting about cats.