Police launch murder probe as mystery skeleton unearthed

Police launch murder probe as mystery skeleton buried in a countryside field ‘some time ago’ is unearthed

  • Police had thought the body belonged to a local man who disappeared in 2004 
  • DNA testing has since proved that the body is not that of Robin Barrows Spencer
  • Police have launched a fresh murder probe and are trying to identify the body

Police have launched a murder probe following the discovery of a human skeleton at a burial site in a countryside field where it had been ‘for many years’.

Officers were called to Coxmoor Road, in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, after a farmer carrying out construction work with a JCB digger made the grim find on April 26.

Parts of the woods and farmland were cordoned off and a blue tent was erected while forensic examinations were carried out and the bones were exhumed.

Nottinghamshire Police said specialist officers had been working alongside a team of scientists to try and identify who the decomposed remains belonged to.

The force said it originally believed the body could be that of Robin Barrows Spencer, a local man who was reported missing by his mother in June 2004.

He was 47-years-old at the time of his disappearance and a murder investigation was launched in 2006.

Police are desperately trying to uncover the identity of the deceased person

Police have worked around the site since the body was discovered in April

His body has never been recovered and despite a number of arrests being made at the time, nobody has ever been prosecuted.

However, extensive DNA tests, including DNA from family members, have been conducted and confirmed the body is not Mr Spencer.

Mystery still surrounds the identity of the deceased and further work, including radiocarbon dating testing, will now be carried out, which could take several months.

Police had thought it was the body of local man Robin Barrows Spencer, 47 – who was reported missing by his mother in 2004

The remains are of a male skeleton, with an estimated age of between 40 to 60 years old and estimated height / stature of between 5′ 41/4′ and 5′ 61/2.

Detectives believe the victim may have been murdered due to trauma sustained to parts of the skeleton recovered at the burial site.

They are now trawling the Missing Person database, analysing clothing recovered from the scene and consulting experts to try and ID the man and how he died.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin said: ‘It is important to remember this is not just a collection of bones in a field.

‘This is someone’s loved one whose family will have undoubtedly been waiting many years for answers.

‘His family are at the forefront of our minds and that is why we have been meticulous in our decision making by ensuring we were at the scene in Coxmoor Road for three weeks to ensure we can gather as much evidence as possible.

‘It is imperative that we can provide his family with all the answers they need and that the work we do now can ensure those responsible for his death are brought to justice.

‘This will obviously be distressing for the local community to hear as at this moment in time we cannot provide identification.

Extensive work including a post-mortem examination has been conducted by a team of scientists including an anthropologist

Testing has revealed the bones are from a male skeleton, with an estimated age of death of between the ages of 40 to 60 years old and estimated height / stature of between 5′ 41/4″ and 5′ 61/2

‘What I can say is that we have a team of detectives working extremely hard alongside a team of scientists to gather as much detail as possible to help us identify the person.

‘At this stage we believe the man was murdered due to the injuries sustained. This includes trauma to parts of skeleton, which are undergoing further analysis.

‘We also believe he was buried at this site so no one could find him. It is also possible that the burial site is also not the place where his murder occurred.

‘However, we keep an open mind. We also know this is not a murder that has happened recently.

‘We know this because it takes a number of years for the body to decompose to bone.

‘The radiocarbon dating would help provide a scientific date range for date of death and could provide a minimum timeframe that the body has been buried.

‘We have a team of dedicated detectives now working on this case and would really like to hear from members of the public.

‘Today we appeal for the public to come forward.

‘Any information you may have about who this person might be or anything you may have heard then we would ask you to get in touch.

‘This murder may have happened some time ago, but times have changed and so have loyalties.

‘We have set up a dedicated phone line and online portal direct to the incident room for anyone with information to contact us; or you can call Crimestoppers which is completely anonymous.

‘We have already eliminated a number of people who are known to be missing.

‘We are determined to use all our investigative skills to identify this man and find those responsible for his murder.’

Authorities say they are working through and eliminating a list of identity possibilities for the body 

Police have stressed that the grim discovery forms a single grave site

Superintendent for the County, Claire Rukas added ‘There has been some rumour and speculation and I would like to take this opportunity to address this.

‘There is nothing to indicate there are any other bodies buried at the site.. This is a single grave with a single deceased person in it.

‘We have carried out extensive work over the last three weeks at the site to ensure that no stone was left unturned.

‘We know the woods around Coxmoor Road are a popular walking spot.

‘We know the discovery of human remains will be alarming, but the public have nothing to be afraid of and they are safe to use.

‘We would also like to thank the public for their patience. The cordon was lifted last week, and the road has been reopened.

‘This is a rare and unusual case, and we hope the community will come forward and provide us with as much information as they can.

‘As always, we will keep you updated as this complex investigation develops..’

Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room by clicking the online link https://mipp.police.uk/operation/33EM22E48-PO1

Alternatively you can call the force’s incident room on 0800 096 0095.

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