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Pen-y-ghent body mystery: Cold case investigators explore possibility the South East Asian woman was a “Thai bride” based in north Lancashire or south Cumbria

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Brief update on investigation, 7 November 2018:

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The media coverage has been excellent and it has prompted an encouraging response to the appeal. We’ve received around a dozen calls and other information that are currently being assessed by the Cold Case Review Unit.
“We continue to welcome contact from anyone who believes they know of someone who fits the circumstances of the case. It will be possible, in the fullness of time, to confirm or negate all suggested identities regarding this lady.”
If you can help the investigation please call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2, and ask for the Cold Case Review Unit. Or email ColdCaseReviewUnit@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.
Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Please quote reference number 12170002439 and “Pen-y-Ghent body” when providing details about this investigation.

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An unidentified South East Asian woman whose body was found near Pen-y-ghent in 2004 may have been a “Thai bride” based in north Lancashire or south Cumbria.

This is a line of enquiry that is currently being examined by the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Police’s Cold Case Review Unit.

The body was discovered by a group of walkers on 20 September 2004 on the Pennine Way between Pen-y-ghent and Horton in Ribblesdale. She was lying in a mountain stream at the entrance to a pot hole near Sell Gill Pot.

There has never been an established cause of death but the circumstances have remained suspicious.

A post mortem examination suggested that she had been dead for between one and three weeks, putting the time of her death between 31 August and 13 September 2004.

An inquest in May 2007 recorded an open verdict.

Adam Harland, manager of the Cold Case Review Unit, explained that tests on the woman’s hair suggest she may have settled in north Lancashire or south Cumbria.

Enquiries linked to her clothing and jewellery also confirmed she had been in the UK for at least two years and may have come to the country as a “Thai bride”.

Mr Harland said: “This term does not necessarily mean the woman comes from Thailand, but that she is a lady who has taken up a relationship with a white gentleman and has come back to live in the UK in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

“That would probably mean that her partner is older than her and quite likely has led a more solitary, individual life prior to their relationship taking place.

“Whoever her partner was in the last days of her life is the person we need to locate and speak to.”

Mr Harland is urging people in north Lancashire and south Cumbria to think back to this time and see if they recall a woman from South East Asia who may have been in relationship with a local man.

“It is probable that others who knew this lady were told that the relationship had ended and that she had ‘gone home’,” said Mr Harland.

“However the hypothesis we prefer is that she had been killed somewhere else, possibly in her own home, before her body was transported and deposited in this remote location. We believe a vehicle was used to take her there, probably a 4×4 due to the difficult terrain.”

The physical details of the woman have been issued previously, along with an artist’s impression which Mr Harland says should be viewed with caution.

Original artist’s impression that should be viewed with caution

He said: “I am more interested in matching the circumstances of the woman’s life rather than matching someone to original artist’s impression. Someone out there must know who she is.”

The woman is described as South East Asian which encompasses China, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, 4ft 11in tall, aged 20 to 40, about 10 stones, brown eyes, dark-brown shoulder-length hair, both ears pierced, with a distinctive gap between her front lower teeth which would have been noticeable when she smiled.

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation is urged to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room. Or email ColdCaseReviewUnit@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.

Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Please quote reference number  12170002439 and “Pen-y-ghent body” when providing details about this investigation.

Last modified: November 7, 2018