DNA breakthrough may help missing persons cases

dna - by John Goode via Flickr

North Yorkshire Police may be about to reach a breakthrough in one of their oldest open cases, thanks to advances in DNA testing.

On August 28th 1981, an anonymous call was made to police about the discovery of a deceased woman near the village of Scawton. She has since become known as the Sutton Bank Body.

Over the past three decades, 15 people have come forward to claim they were friends or relatives of the woman. None of these claims has been confirmed.

In January 2012 however, the woman’s remains were exhumed and the samples taken have given investigators a full DNA profile. Detective Superintendent Lewis Raw explained that this and other data will be compared with evidence from those who believe the woman was part of their family.

“Research will be conducted around physical similarities between the families and the deceased, including dental records,” he said, adding that the new information enhances potential lines of inquiry.

It is hoped that such advances may help in other cases. North Yorkshire’s Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway is in charge of the search for Claudia Lawrence, last seen on March 18th 2009. He noted that today marks a ‘poignant moment’ for those affected by her disappearance and suspected murder.

“We are still seeking that crucial breakthrough that will unravel this most complex of investigations,” Supt Galloway said. Scientific advances, like those used to examine the Sutton Bank Body, may become vital in finding Claudia Lawrence and other missing persons.

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