Norfolk headless body inquiry finds missing women

image copyrightLaurence Cawley
image captionDet Ch Insp Andy Guy revisited the scene near Cockley Cley where the body of a headless woman was found 41 years ago

A police inquiry attempting to identify a headless body found more than 40 years ago has located 263 missing women safe and well around the country.

The body was found in August 1974 at Cockley Cley, near Swaffham, Norfolk.

Det Ch Insp Andy Guy said as part of the inquiry it gathered together more than 500 missing women cases to eliminate possible matches.

Looking at these cases, police have found a number alive and have informed them if relatives want to contact them.

image copyrightNorfolk Police
image captionPolice were still continuing their investigation to identify the woman, who was found in a pink nightdress tied and wrapped up, and her killer

Police also traced a further 52 women, listed as missing, who they found to have died.

Det Ch Insp Guy, who took on the case in 2007, said police were still continuing their investigation to identify the woman, who was found in a pink nightdress tied and wrapped up in a National Cash Registers' plastic sheet, and her killer.

One line of inquiry is that she may be a woman known as The Duchess, who lived in Great Yarmouth and may have worked as an escort.

The woman, who disappeared in the mid-1970s, is thought to have come from Denmark, which fits in with a DNA profile of the body suggesting the woman came from and had lived in that part of Europe.

Unusual rope

image copyrightNorfolk Police
image captionUnusual rope from Dundee was found with the body

Police are also keen to find out more information about an unusual piece of rope found with the body.

Det Ch Insp Guy said officers investigated the rope and found that it was made of four strands, rather than the more usual three or five strands.

He talked to a rope expert who told him the rope composition "suggests it was made for use with agricultural machinery".

The rope was traced to Dundee, where that type of rope was made, but there the trail runs cold as the firms have long since gone out of business.

Det Ch Insp Guy said: "The Duchess lived in the Great Yarmouth docks and was well-known and a bit of a character.

"We know she spent some time in custody (but the records have long since been destroyed) and we know people who knew her and spent time with her, but nobody knows her name."

He called on anyone with information about this woman or The Duchess herself to contact Norfolk Police in confidence.

image copyrightNorfolk Police
image captionThe woman was found wrapped up in a National Cash Registers embossed plastic sheet
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