Sutton Bank body investigation inconclusive

The facial reconstruction of the woman

The facial reconstruction of the woman

First published in Ryedale news York Press: Photograph of the Author by , jennifer.bell@thepress.co.uk

POLICE are no closer to unravelling one of North Yorkshire’s most notorious mystery deaths.

The remains of a woman’s body, found near Sutton Bank in 1981, were exhumed from Malton Cemetery 12 months ago so DNA material could be extracted in a bid to identify her.

The Press revealed in August 2011, on the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the body, that police were reopening the inquiry.

Following the exhumation and publicity about the case, involving the production of a likeness of the woman, 13 people contacted the police with the name of a person who they believed the body could be.

Detectives then began the process of carrying out preliminary checks with the families and friends who had come forward. Two of the suggested people were eliminated following a comparison of dental records and two further people were ruled out following research and testing.

Officers then worked with five families to carry out DNA testing to ascertain any matches with the DNA taken from the unidentified body.

Police have now revealed that all five families have also been eliminated. It was not possible to carry out DNA testing relating to the remaining four names provided, as those who came forward to report the names were not family members.

The DNA profile of the woman has now been added to the national DNA database to allow matches with any other reports being investigated by other police forces.

Forensic analysis had revealed the woman was 5ft 2ins tall, and older than 35. Her upper teeth were missing, and she had an upper dental plate fitted and only six lower teeth. She had short dark hair and a post mortem showed she had given birth to two or three children.

She also had a displaced septum between her nostrils, an old fracture to her ankle, and her toenails were painted pink with varnish from the Max Factor Maxi range.

She had an abnormality to her neck vertebrae which would have caused backache. The remains were found on August 28, 1981, after an anonymous caller phoned Ripon Police Station, saying he could not reveal his identity due to “national security” reasons.

The body was found in undergrowth on an unclassified road between Sutton Bank and Scawton and Rievaulx and is thought to have lain undisturbed for up to two years.

Police believe the woman was murdered. Detectives have said the investigation remains ongoing.

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