Mystery body is re-buried

The body of the mystery woman arrives back at Malton cemetery
The body of the mystery woman arrives back at Malton cemetery

THE body of an unidentified woman was re-buried in her grave yesterday following her exhumation on Monday.

A short burial and committal service was carried out by police chaplain, the Rev Simon Rudkin, within the marquee that had been erected over the site of her grave in Malton Cemetery.

Her remains had been placed in a new coffin but with the plaque from the original coffin. North Yorkshire Police also provided a wreath with the words “rest in peace”.

The cemetery had been closed to the public since the exhumation started on Monday but was re-opened yesterday afternoon.

DNA samples were taken from the remains in the hope they can provide sufficient clues to identify the woman whose naked body was found in 1981 on an unclassified road between Sutton Bank and the rural villages of Scawton and Rievaulx.

The grim discovery followed an anonymous tip-off to police and led to an 18-month long investigation.

A forensic examination of the body was inconclusive as was the post mortem which failed to establish a cause of death.

No jewellery or personal belongings were found on or nearby the body which could help to identify her and a Home Office pathologist estimated that she may have lain in the undergrowth for up to two years due to the state of the body and the level of plant growth around her.

Further examinations of the mystery woman’s remains established that she was around 5ft 2in tall, aged between 35 and 40, with short, dark-coloured hair.

The case is one of several being conducted by North Yorkshire Police as part of their Cold Case reviews of unidentified bodies.

Det Supt Lewis Raw, head of Specialist and Major Crime, said after yesterday’s service, which he attended: “The prime means of identification in those days were fingerprints and dental records but now we have DNA and the results are likely to be known in about a month.”

They would then compare the samples with DNA from those who had come forward with reports of people missing from their families around that time and also look back at the original investigation.

He added they had tried to carry out the whole operation with “dignity and respect.”

The Rev Rudkin said it was the first time he had been involved in an exhumation which went ahead following permission from a coroner.

“I was privileged to be at the briefings and was amazed at the amount of detail that went into it and pleased with the sensitivity of it all,” he said.