Sutton Bank Body Exhumed

24 January 2012, 13:02 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

North Yorkshire police have dug up the body of a woman whose body was found over 30 years ago.

The woman, who became known as the Sutton Bank Body, was found beside a quiet road in August 1981 after an anonymous tip-off.

Despite an 18 month investigation, the woman was never identified and police now hope that advances in DNA technology will finally lead to a breakthrough in the case.

The exhumation of the body from its grave in Malton cemetery began at midnight on Monday and took around seven hours.

The remains have been removed to allow DNA to be taken from the thigh bone and the teeth if possible.

A religious minister attended the exhumation and will perform a short service when the remains are reinterred on Wednesday, when a wreath will also be laid by North Yorkshire Police.

Officers discovered the skeletal remains of the woman in undergrowth at the top of Sutton Bank, between the villages of Scawton and Rievaulx, after receiving a call from a person who was never identified.

A forensic examination of the body, which a pathologist estimated could have been there for up to two years, was inconclusive and the post-mortem examination failed to establish a cause of death.

Further examinations revealed the woman was about 5ft 2ins tall, aged between 35 and 40, with short, dark-coloured hair. She had an old fracture to her right ankle. No jewellery or personal belongings were found on or nearby the body.

A three-dimensional wax reconstruction of the woman's head was produced at the time - the first of its kind - but her identity remained a mystery.