Norfolk

Norfolk headless body inquiry: Woman 'was a mother'

Night dress and rope in Cockley Cley murder inquiry Image copyright Norfolk Police
Image caption The corpse was found wearing a nightdress and tied with rope on a heath in the village of Cockley Cley on 27 August 1974

Police trying to identify a headless corpse found 42 years ago have said the discovery the woman had probably given birth could provide a "breakthrough".

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

Norfolk Police have used modern techniques for a second post-mortem examination of the remains.

Det Ch Insp Andy Guy said: "It is absolutely possible we could use the DNA recovered to link the woman to a living family member."

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The first post-mortem examination, which took place the day the body was discovered on a heath, concluded she was aged between 23 and 35.

The dead woman was found wearing a 1969 Marks & Spencer pink nightdress and was wrapped up in a plastic sheet secured with ropes.

'Can identify murderer'

The force's main line of inquiry is that she could have been a woman who worked as an escort known as The Duchess in Great Yarmouth.

The Duchess, who detectives said was well-known locally, was believed to be from Denmark, but suddenly disappeared.

The latest examination suggests the dead woman originated from an area of central Europe encompassing Denmark, Germany, Austria and northern Italy.

Det Ch Insp Guy said the results of the second post-mortem examination "could provide a breakthrough".

"With the advances we have made in recent years in science, we are now able to look at the case in more microscopic detail and we now have her full DNA profile," he said.

"The second examination also showed her pelvic girdle had widened, which is a bodily change in expectant mothers to allow childbirth to take place.

"I believe if we identify the victim we can identify her murderer."

Inside Out was broadcast on BBC One in the east of England at 19:30 GMT on Monday and is available on the BBC iPlayer.

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