Detectives investigating the discovery of human remains in a Sudbury river have received further forensic test results and are also continuing to try to trace a man seen in the river who could be a potential witness.
Officers were called at around 4.35pm on Thursday, August 27, after the remains were found inside two black bin bags in the River Stour, near Meadow Gate and Croft Bridge.
An initial Home Office post-mortem examination was conducted on Sunday, August 30, but was not able to establish a cause of death or any form of identification.
Initial expert forensic tests had already established that the victim was an adult male, who was likely to have been of an athletic or muscular build.
The further test results which have now been received relate to a small amount of additional human remains which were found as a result of the searches of the river. The DNA testing of these remains has now confirmed that they are from the same person as the original discovery.
Tests to establish the timescale in which the victim died are continuing, as are efforts to identify him through the comparison of DNA across national and international databases.
In the eight weeks since the discovery was made, a substantial amount of work has been completed and a dedicated team of over 20 officers – which encompasses all aspects of the investigation – remain committed to the investigation.
Approximately 750 people have been spoken to (including as part of house-to-house enquiries) and as a result of this, more than 140 statements or reports have been taken.
Officers have collated in excess of 300 exhibits – both physical and forensic – and seized CCTV from almost 70 systems across the town, from which in the region of 180 hours of footage has been viewed to date.
The joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team is continuing to work with the National Crime Agency, along with a number of other specialists and experts from across the country.
Members of the public will continue to see detectives and police staff making enquiries in Sudbury and the inquiry team remain closely engaged with the local Safer Neighbourhood Team.
Detectives are still keen to trace a man seen swimming in the river a week before the discovery, at around 5pm on Thursday, August 20, in the area of the Victorian Bathing Pool and Meadow Gate Bridge. Officers would like to speak to him as he may have been a regular user of the river and is therefore a potential witness.
He is described as having olive skin, aged 20 to 30 years old, with short black hair around 2 to 3ins long on top and short at the sides. He was wearing black shorts and was carrying a red rucksack, along with other items of clothing. He left the river through the Victorian Bathing Pool and walked off towards Friars Meadow.
Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, Head of Crime, said: “In the weeks since the remains were discovered, a significant amount of work has been undertaken to try to identify the victim and also who is responsible for depositing the bags. Due to a number of factors, we were confident that the additional remains that were found as a result of the river searches would also belong to our victim and for investigative reasons, it was appropriate to wait until we had the DNA results before divulging this discovery.
“We expect to receive further forensic test results by early next month, which may help us to determine how long the victim has been deceased. Establishing an approximate age for the victim is even more complex, with these tests taking much longer to complete and it is not guaranteed we will get a definitive answer.
“The inquiry team are also still keen to identify the man seen swimming in the river exactly one week before the remains were discovered. He is being treated as a potential witness and if he was someone that regularly swam in the river over the summer, he might have information that could assist us.
“I would once again urge anyone who knows anything about this discovery to come forward. If you have concerns over a relative, friend or colleague you haven’t seen or heard from in a long time which is out of character, then you should contact us.
“Equally, if someone you know was acting suspiciously or displayed a real change in their character in the days and weeks before – and after – the discovery which gives you concern, then please come forward and talk to us. Any information you provide will be dealt with in confidence.”
Detectives are appealing for anyone who witnessed any suspicious behaviour near to the river in the week preceding the discovery to come forward. They would also like to hear from anyone who has seen black bin bags in unusual locations, such as ditches or hedgerows.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Major Investigation Team, either via our online portal here: https://mipp.police.uk/operation/363720N59-PO1 or by calling 101.
Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111, or via their online form: www.crimestoppers-uk.org