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Mystery body found in Exmoor 15 years ago to be identified

Monday, 17 July 2017

A man’s body found more than 15 years ago in Exmoor could finally be identified thanks to modern cutting-edge forensic techniques.

His remains, found by a park ranger, were wrapped in plastic bags and bedding on moorland off Halse Lane near the village of Winsford, Somerset, on March 3 2002.

Alongside him were a number of items including underwear and a distinctive gold pendant featuring a verse from the Koran.

The mystery surrounding the man's death continues despite an extensive police investigation and national appeals, including a television reconstruction.

Avon and Somerset Police says there is evidence to suggest the man suffered injuries associated with a violent assault before his death, which was sometime between late 1999 and 2000.

Following analysis of satellite photographs, it is thought the body may have been kept elsewhere for a significant period of time before being buried in the national park at some point after May 2001.

Avon and Somerset Police is hoping an appeal on Crimewatch will lead to a vital breakthrough.

According to detectives the man was in his mid-20s to mid-30s and thought to be from North Africa or the Asian sub-continent - but could also be Middle Eastern or eastern Mediterranean.

He may have only lived in UK for a few years prior to his death and might have spent time in southern England - in an area between Plymouth and Bude in the west and Poole and Bristol in the east.

Detective Sergeant Pete Frake will appear on the BBC show to summarise the key aspects of the inquiry and urge people to call in if they can help.

He said: "We've carried out exhaustive enquiries over the years, tracing hundreds of reported missing people and following up leads from members of the public, but frustratingly, the identity of this man is still unknown.

"A clay head facial reconstruction was produced in May 2002, along with other 3D reconstructions, to give an idea of what the man may have looked like.

"We have a full DNA profile, so cutting-edge forensic techniques have been utilised and we've sought input from leading scientific experts from around the UK and Europe, including anthropologists, pathologists, dental morphology specialists and experts in mitochondrial DNA analysis.

"Establishing the man's identity is the key to unlocking this case. We need to let his family know what happened to him and ensure the person or people involved in his death and the gruesome deposition of his body on Exmoor are brought to justice.

"One call to us could make all the difference.

"We have a full DNA profile of the victim so we are able to rule people in or out of this inquiry."