New hunt to solve mystery death

DETECTIVES have exhumed a body and launched a national manhunt as they look to crack one of the longest running murder cases in East Anglian history - the headless woman of Cockley Cley.

DETECTIVES have exhumed a body and launched a national manhunt as they look to crack one of the longest running murder cases in East Anglian history - the headless woman of Cockley Cley.

The petite body of a young woman was found bound, decapitated and dumped by the side of a lonely and overgrown Norfolk road more than 30 years ago.

Despite extensive investigations over the years police have been unable to identify the victim, establish any suspects, or come up with a watertight theory of how or why she died. The head has never been recovered.

Det Insp Andy Guy, who is leading the inquiry, said: “Usually the first thing an investigation team does is identify the victim - officers working on this case have never had that privilege.”

The woman, thought to be between 23 and 30-years-old and of petite build, was found concealed in weeds off the Cockley Cley road, near Swaffham, on August 27, 1974. She was badly-decomposed and wore nothing but a pink nightdress. She was wrapped in a rare National Cash Registers sheet.

Hundreds of officers worked on the original case and managed to trace 109 missing women, speaking to thousands of witnesses. But none of this led to the identification of a suspect.

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Police quietly re-opened the investigation in November and last month dug up the corpse from an unmarked grave in Swaffham cemetery for re-examination. They hope forensic advances will make it possible to trace the murdered woman's family and in turn snare whoever took her life.