A PATHOLOGIST is today expected to begin work extracting DNA from the body of a woman whose remains were exhumed more than three decades after she was discovered buried at a North Yorkshire beauty spot.

More than 20 police staff worked through the night into the early hours of this morning in a forensic tent erected over the woman's grave at Malton Cemetery as the remains were removed so samples could be taken from the teeth and a thigh bone.

Scientists at the Forensic Science Service laboratory in Wetherby will use techniques unavailable to the original investigators to isolate DNA, which they will then try to match to samples in the national DNA database and to five families identified as potential relatives.

The ‘nude in the nettles’ case has become one of North Yorkshire’s most famous unsolved mysteries.

In August 1981 detectives were informed about the remains of the 35- to 40-year-old by a well-spoken man who phoned Ripon police station.

He told officers where to look for the body but said he could give no further details for reasons of national security.

No clothing or jewellery was found with the remains, which had lain undisturbed for up to two years close to Sutton Bank, near Thirsk.

The woman was buried after an 18-month investigation, which failed to identify her despite the commissioning of the UK's first wax facial reconstruction based on the shape of her skull.

The body will be reinterred tomorrow but the results of the tests, which could spark a murder inquiry, will not be known for four weeks.