York & North Yorkshire

Family of 'Thai bride' want ashes returned

Lamduan Seekanya Image copyright Family photo/DONLAWAT SUNSUK
Image caption Lamduan Armitage, nee Seekanya, was last seen by her family in 2004

The family of a Thai woman who has finally been identified 15 years after being found dead in the Yorkshire Dales want to return her ashes to Thailand.

Police said the woman discovered near Pen-y-ghent in 2004 was Lamduan Armitage, nee Seekanya.

Because her identity was unknown, villagers named her The Lady of the Hills and she was buried at St Oswald's Church in Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

The family want to bring her back so they can "put her at peace".

Image caption She was buried in the village graveyard after the parish council donated a plot

In January, her parents Buasa and Joomsri Seekanya contacted North Yorkshire Police after reading a BBC story about the case.

The family, from Udon Thani in north-east Thailand, said they had not heard from their daughter, who had married an English man David Armitage, since 2004.

The force carried out extensive inquiries and DNA testing with family members in Thailand in order to confirm her identity.

Mrs Seekanya, who broke down in tears when she was told the confirmation, said: "I'm saddened by this news, to finally know that it's my daughter.

"I had already prepared myself when I saw the story of the Lady of the Hills."

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ms Armitage lived with her husband David in Portsmouth, Rugby and Preston between 1991 and 2004

On behalf of the family, the Thai Women Network in the UK, has started a JustGiving page to raise £5,000 to return her ashes so a religious ceremony can be held.

It is understood the family want her body to be exhumed and cremated and then her ashes to be returned to Thailand.

Exhumation of remains require a Home Office licence issued by the Ministry of Justice.

Ms Armitage's half-naked body was found face down in a stream by walkers on 20 September 2004.

'Incredibly sad'

She was found more than a mile (2km) from the nearest road and was wearing only green jeans, socks and a gold wedding band.

Despite extensive appeals, police were unable to identify her and the parish council donated a burial plot and organised her funeral.

Every year a memorial service for her has been held at the church.

Malcolm Pearce, one of the walkers who found her body, said: "It's incredibly sad but at least this is some peace for her poor family who have suffered anguish for all these years."

Police are now investigating her death and want to speak to anyone who may have known her or her family.

Image copyright DONLAWAT SUNSUK/BBC THAI
Image caption Buasa and Joomsri Seekanya said they had not heard from their daughter since 2004

They said she moved to the UK in 1991 after marrying Mr Armitage in Thailand, and lived in Portsmouth, Rugby and Preston.

The force is looking to interview members of Ms Armitage's family and carry out further inquiries in Thailand in due course.

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