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Students help Cockley Cley cold case detectives probe Scottish links to headless body mystery

PUBLISHED: 16:30 14 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:30 14 April 2016

Dundee Abertay University students who are assisting with the investigation into the unsolved death. Photo: Abertay University/PA Wire

Dundee Abertay University students who are assisting with the investigation into the unsolved death. Photo: Abertay University/PA Wire

The unsolved death of a woman whose headless body was found in Norfolk more than 40 years ago may be linked to Scotland, detectives believe.

Local newspaper archives are being used in the investigation into the unsolved death of a woman whose headless body was found in Norfolk more than 40 years ago, which may be linked to Scotland. Photo: Abertay University/PA WireLocal newspaper archives are being used in the investigation into the unsolved death of a woman whose headless body was found in Norfolk more than 40 years ago, which may be linked to Scotland. Photo: Abertay University/PA Wire

Cold case officers are probing a possible connection between the mystery victim - discovered at Cockley Cley in August 1974 - and Dundee.

Both the rope and a plastic cover used to bind and wrap the corpse have associations with the city more than 400 miles away.

Norfolk Constabulary and Police Scotland have drafted in forensic psychology students at Dundee’s Abertay University to help them scour local newspapers from the time in a bid for clues.

Inspector Marc Lorente from the Scottish force said: “Norfolk Constabulary exhumed this woman’s body in 2008 and obtained DNA samples from it.

Photo from Norfolk Constabulary of rope found by the Cockley Cley body. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary/PA WirePhoto from Norfolk Constabulary of rope found by the Cockley Cley body. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary/PA Wire

“They have since traced and eliminated over 470 women from all over the UK who were reported as missing in the early 1970s.

“However, they have still not been able to identify this woman, and we hope that reports of missing persons within the pages of Dundee’s local papers from the time will help move this investigation further forward.”

The woman found on an isolated heath 42 years ago is thought to have been aged between 23 and 35 and was probably a mother.

Advanced testing revealed she had spent time in Europe and her diet was predominantly fish and shellfish.

Photo from Norfolk Constabulary of a nightdress linked to the Cockley Cley body. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary/PA WirePhoto from Norfolk Constabulary of a nightdress linked to the Cockley Cley body. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary/PA Wire

This led detectives to a woman known as The Duchess, who was originally from Denmark but lived and worked as an escort in the Great Yarmouth area in 1973/74 before her disappearance.

The body was clothed in a pink Marks & Spencer nightdress and was found in a plastic sheet with the logo of National Cash Registers (NCR) - previously one of Dundee’s biggest employers.

It was bound with an unusual piece of rope or string which was found to have been made in a factory in the city.

Abertay University lecturer Dr Penny Woolnough, an expert is missing persons, said: “Our students are currently working hard on this investigation, carrying out a review of newsprint media coverage from Dundee between January 1973 and January 1975 in Dundee Central Library.

A large NCR dust sheet linked to the headless body. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary/PA WireA large NCR dust sheet linked to the headless body. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary/PA Wire

“Their task is to identify any women reported missing at that time, as well as any other murders which may have a connection with this case.

“We have 12 students working on this case, and we were asked to support the investigation because of the translational approach we take to psychology, which focuses on training the students to apply academic knowledge to real-world challenges.”


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