Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Police exhume mystery woman's body

A 3D reconstruction was made of the head of the woman who became known as the Sutton Bank Body (North Yorkshire Police)

Police trying to discover the identity of a woman whose skeleton was found in undergrowth more than 30 years ago have exhumed her body.

The woman, who became known as the Sutton Bank Body, was found beside a quiet road in the North York Moors National Park in August 1981 after an anonymous tip-off.

Despite an 18-month investigation, the woman was never identified and police now hope that advances in DNA technology will finally lead to a breakthrough in the case.

The exhumation of the body from its grave in Malton cemetery, in North Yorkshire, is now under way.

A North Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said on Tuesday: "The exhumation went ahead as planned and the remains of the unidentified woman left the cemetery at 7.45am this morning for a designated mortuary to enable samples to be taken for DNA analysis. The remains will be returned to the cemetery tomorrow morning for a re-interment service at 11am."

The remains have been removed to allow DNA to be taken from the thigh bone and the teeth if possible.

A religious minister attended during the exhumation and will perform a short service when the remains are reinterred, when a wreath will also be laid by North Yorkshire Police.

Officers discovered the skeletal remains of the woman in undergrowth at the top of Sutton Bank, between the villages of Scawton and Rievaulx, after receiving a call from a person who was never identified.

A forensic examination of the body, which a pathologist estimated could have been there for up to two years, was inconclusive and the post-mortem examination failed to establish a cause of death.

A three-dimensional wax reconstruction of the woman's head was produced at the time - the first of its kind - but her identity remained a mystery.

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