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Experts work on DNA profile for human bones in effort to identify victim

PUBLISHED: 18:05 01 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:53 02 September 2020

Police diving team on the bridge as the divers search the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police diving team on the bridge as the divers search the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Searches involving drones are set to continue along a stretch of river over coming days – as detectives still try to identify human remains found in the water last week.

Police search the banks of the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice search the banks of the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police launched a murder inquiry following the discovery of bones inside two black bins bags pulled from the River Stour in Sudbury at about 4.35pm last Thursday.

Bags containing possible leg bones from a single human body were recovered from the water, near a submerged Sainsbury’s shopping trolley, between Meadow Gates and Croft Bridge.

Police check out items found by the diving team searching the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice check out items found by the diving team searching the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

MORE: Human remains discovered in Sudbury river: everything we know so far

Police search the banks of the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice search the banks of the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A Home Office postmortem examination carried out on Sunday proved inconclusive – with further forensic tests required to establish any form of identification, or cause of death.

Police search the banks of the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice search the banks of the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Police closed the footpath between Meadow Gate and Croft Gate, including Croft Road footbridge, while an emergency navigation closure was put in place for officers to search the river and its banks, with the assistance of divers from the Met’s Marine Policing Unit and dog handlers from Essex Police.

Police divers search the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice divers search the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

By Tuesday afternoon, police had searched an area of river upstream between Croft Gate and the Victorian bathing pool.

Police diving team on the bridge as the divers search the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice diving team on the bridge as the divers search the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The section of footpath between Croft Bridge and Croft Gate Weir was released for public use, but residents can expect to see search officers walking the river banks while a drone is flown overhead this week.

Police diving team on the bridge as the divers search the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice diving team on the bridge as the divers search the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Brown said the main focus was to identify the victim, adding: “Until we have been able to do this, it limits the other enquiries that can be completed. We are working with a number of specialists who are helping us try to achieve this.

Police diving team on the bridge as the divers search the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice diving team on the bridge as the divers search the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“The Home Office post-mortem examination was conducted by a forensic pathologist, who was supported by a forensic anthropologist. This is usual procedure in a case such as this.

Police divers search the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice divers search the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Other forensic experts are currently analysing the remains and working to obtain a DNA profile. This could be the key to identifying our victim, but is by no means guaranteed.

Police at Croft Bridge at the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice at Croft Bridge at the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We are also engaging with the National Crime Agency and their specialist officers to see how they can assist us with the investigation. Again, this is perfectly normal in an inquiry of this nature.

Police tape off a footpath as their diving team search the River Stour at Sudbury  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPolice tape off a footpath as their diving team search the River Stour at Sudbury Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“In addition to the support from the Metropolitan Police divers, we have also had assistance from Essex Police officers with cadaver dogs to search the river banks. Though unfortunately, the dogs did not find anything of significance.”

MORE: Bones mystery continues as forensic tests on human remains prove inconclusive

On Monday, major investigation team detectives said they wanted to hear from two boys who assisted a member of the public in trying to recover the bags from the water, and a man who was seen swimming in the area of the river known locally as the ‘Victorian bathing pool’ on Thursday, August 20.

On Tuesday, police said the boys had been identified, but that the third witness, who may be a regular user of the river and have seen something of significance, had still not been traced.

Meanwhile, police confirmed they had been revisiting recent local missing person cases but were keeping an open mind about links to unreported missing people or missing people from further afield.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the major investigation team, either via the online portal mipp.police.uk/operation/363720N59-PO1 or by calling 101.


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