The man accused of beheading a great-grandmother in her back garden is a would-be cage fighter who converted to Islam five years ago.
Nicholas Salvadore, 25, was questioned by police yesterday over the murder of 82-year-old Palmira Silva, who was hacked to death in an apparently random attack on Thursday afternoon.
Mrs Silva is understood to have been attacked by the suspect, who had argued with his flatmates minutes earlier, prompting them to flee in terror in a car as he smashed one of its windows. The suspect then allegedly beheaded two cats, ranting as he did so, before targeting Mrs Silva.
A neighbour said the suspect had told her a week ago: "The police are looking for me, but they can't find me, I'm going to hide."
Neighbours said Mr Salvadore had been living with friends a few doors down from Mrs Silva in Edmonton, north London, for several months and was well known in the area, where he was nicknamed "Fat Nick".
An hour before Mrs Silva's murder, Mr Salvadore had been involved in an argument at the local Nightingale Cafe, where he ordered a takeaway burger and left without paying.
Fatima Altun, 20, who works in the cafe, said: "I went after him and said, 'You haven't paid'. He gave me the money, it was £3, but he was a bit angry about it. To me he seemed a bit depressed or upset about something."
Lewis Young, 24, a tattoo artist who attended the local Nightingale Academy secondary school with Mr Salvadore, said: "At school he was just a normal bloke. He seemed pretty cool. I just can't believe he could have done something like this."
Mr Salvadore had ambitions to become a cage fighter, but had gone off the rails and was known locally for dealing drugs.
Another of his acquaintances said: "He was having problems at work. He's just been sacked. He'd had problems with drink and drugs in the past."
Dave Jensen, 52, a builder who once employed Mr Salvadore as a labourer, said he had converted to Islam five years ago. However he added that he had never behaved aggressively regarding his religion or beliefs.
Mr Jensen said: "Nick told me in passing he'd turned to Islam, about five years ago. But he wasn't in your face about it. He didn't try and convert others or talk about religion and politics at all." Police disclosed that it took almost half an hour to arrest the suspect after the first 999 call was received at 1.07pm on Thursday. A police helicopter was overhead by 1.12pm.
(Daily Telegraph, London)