Ipswich: Neighbours shock at identity of the remains uncovered at town building site

IPSWICH: Neighbours today told of their shock after the mystery surrounding the discovery of bones on a building site was finally unravelled.

The remains, which were uncovered during building work last month, have been identified as those of Walter French, who was 65 when he went missing 25 years ago – although police still do not know how he died.

The self-employed builder disappeared from his bungalow in Kensington Road – a property he built for himself and his family in the early 1960s – on July 7, 1986 sparking a search by police, family and friends.

But the mystery of what happened to Mr French was never solved – until the skeletal remains were discovered by a group of workmen building luxury homes in nearby Valley Road, just a few minutes away from his former home.

Dennis Coleman, 82, was a neighbour of Mrs French at the time.

He said: “I didn’t know her well but I used to chat to her and I remember her saying her husband had gone missing. He just disappeared without any warning.

“It was a shock to hear about [the remains being found] although I had no idea it was him.”

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Mr French met wife Marianna, who still lives in Ipswich, in Italy during the Second World War. A neighbour said Mr French had been the love of Marianna’s life.

Vera and Brian Baker, who now live in the couple’s home, said they were told last year about Mr French’s disappearance by friends and were shocked to discover the link to the discovery of the bones.

A forensic archaeologist and anthropologist was at the scene for several days and confirmed the remains were male, at which point police began tracking down missing people from around the area.

It is understood police received a call from a member of the public alerting them to the fact that Mr French’s disappearance had never been resolved.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Luckett said: “A post mortem examination has taken place but we cannot confirm the cause of Walter’s death.

“The death is currently being treated as unexplained, however there are not thought to be any suspicious circumstances and a file will now be prepared for the coroner.

“We continue to liaise with the family of Walter and appreciate their patience and assistance during this difficult time.”

n Would you like to send your best wishes to the family? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or alternatively you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk