A hat similar to the one Sarah Everard was wearing when she was last seen on Wednesday evening has been found on Clapham Common.
The cream wool hat was discovered in a bush by a passer-by at about 11am, Sky News understands.
It appears to be similar to the one worn by the 33-year-old in CCTV footage released by detectives in a public appeal.
The garment was spotted close to the route Ms Everard is believed to have taken across the common, said Sky’s crime correspondent, Martin Brunt.
Specialist officers went to the scene in south London, took photographs of the hat, and made several phone calls.
About an hour after that, a police cordon was placed around the area.
Detectives later arrived, placed the hat in an evidence bag, and took it away for tests.
More from London
Girl, 10, tasered by police in London after ‘threatening woman with hammer and garden shears’
Sarah Everard: Police ‘increasingly concerned’ for welfare of missing Brixton woman
Man jailed after keeping arsenal of weapons in toddler daughter’s bedroom – including sawn-off shotgun
Sarah Everard: Fears for missing London woman, 33, who vanished while walking home
Bus driver jailed for life after battering wife to death during first coronavirus lockdown
Drekwon Patterson: Police appeal after teenager driven at and chased before being stabbed to death
Earlier, Ms Everard’s uncle said her phone is not ringing and WhatsApp messages are not getting through.
Nick Everard said his brother and sister-in-law are “beside themselves with worry” and pleaded with anyone who may be holding his niece to “just be human and to let her come home”.
“Let her talk to us, give us a ring or text to let us know she is OK,” Mr Everard added.
He told The Sun it is “completely out of character” for Sarah not to be in contact with her family.
The 33-year-old marketing manager is happy, fit and healthy, he said, has a boyfriend and recently started a new job.
“These are desperate times for the family,” Mr Everard continued.
“We know the police are doing everything they can but not knowing what has happened after (several) days is agonising.”
Ms Everard’s parents and brother and sister have joined the search for her in Clapham, south London, and have been walking her last known journey, her uncle said.
He added that Sarah is a “bright young woman, very sensible” who he imagines is “very streetwise” after living in London for “a long time”.
Ms Everard vanished while walking to her home in Brixton from the nearby Clapham Junction area on Wednesday evening.
She had been at a friend’s house when she left the property in Leathwaite Road around 9pm.
A fresh CCTV image of Ms Everard – understood to have been discovered on a private doorbell-type camera – has been given to police.
It captures her walking alone along the A205 Poynders Road, from the junction at Cavendish Road, toward Tulse Hill, which lies south of Brixton.
The image appears to suggest she walked through Clapham Common and was heading towards her home, although police said it is unclear whether she made it there.
Ms Everard’s aunt Jane Everard, from Bolton, Lancashire, told The Sun: “We’re devastated. It is so out of character for her.
“She has a very big circle of friends from Durham, where she was at university and down in London. It has been a real shock. We are all so worried.”
Teams of police and volunteers have been searching Clapham Common since Friday evening.
An extensive investigation combining searches and house-to-house inquiries is ongoing to find any further sightings of Ms Everard, the Metropolitan Police said.
The investigation is being led by the Met’s Specialist Crime Command because of the “complex nature” of the case, the force added.
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin said: “I would like to stress that there is no information at this stage to suggest anything untoward may have happened to Sarah.
“The focus remains on returning her home to her family safe and well and that is our number one priority.
“I would like to thank Sarah’s family and friends, the local community and members of the public for their help to raise awareness of this appeal and for coming forward with information.
“I would urge anybody who has information or noticed any suspicious activity in the area to contact us if you haven’t already.”
Ms Everard was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern, and turquoise and orange trainers.
She was also thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat and is described as 5ft 4in (162cm) with a slim build and blonde hair.
Scotland Yard has issued an appeal for news of Ms Everard.
In a statement, her family said: “With every day that goes by we are getting more worried about Sarah.
“She is always in regular contact with us and with her friends and it is totally out of character for her to disappear like this. We long to see her and want nothing more than for her to be found safe and well.
“We are so grateful to the police and all our friends for all they are doing.
“We are desperate for news and if anyone knows anything about what has happened to her, we would urge you to please come forward and speak to the police. No piece of information is too insignificant.”
Anyone who has seen Sarah or who has information that may assist the investigation should call the Incident Room on 0208 785 8244