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Facial reconstruction appeal - investigation into discovery of human remains

News   •   Sep 20, 2019 10:56 BST

Facial reconstruction

A facial reconstruction has been created in a bid to identify a man whose remains were discovered in Forest Gate in 2016.

Shortly before 1600hrs on Friday, 29 April, police were called to reports of skeletal remains found in a blue sleeping bag at a disused factory in Upton Lane, E7.

Police attended and the premises was secured as a crime scene.

Upon closer inspection it appeared that a black bin liner had been placed over the head and body, while the skull had a visible crack along the left side, towards the back. 

Working with archaeologists to excavate the scene, officers removed more than 100 industrial rubble sacks containing objects, soil and debris. These were sieved by specialist search officers and examined by a forensic anthropologist.

During the excavation, almost all of the skeletal remains were recovered.

A post mortem and anthropological examination took place and this concluded that there were a number of blunt force trauma wounds to the skull.

A DNA sample was obtained from the remains but no match was made on the National DNA database and the victim remains unidentified.

Professors at the Natural History Museum also examined some of the remains to establish the origin however suitable DNA could not be extracted.

Officers from Specialist Crime North investigate, with Detective Inspector Darren Jones leading enquiries. 

He said: 

“I would urge people reading this appeal, especially those living in the area where this man’s remains were found, to look closely at the reconstruction and think about whether you may have seen him. Does he look familiar to you?”

The examination of the skeletal remains concluded that the deceased was a male of between 5ft4ins to 5ft8ins (163cm to 173cm) in height, and it is believed he could have been of eastern, southern or central Asian, Indian subcontinent, European, North African or Middle Eastern descent.

Inside the blue sleeping bag there was a packet of chewing tobacco which is only officially sold in the Indian subcontinent. An item of clothing found on the remains also links to the same area.

Examinations continued over the following months at the scene. During this time, a room on the first floor of the four-story building was identified as being the suspected site of the attack. Blood matching the DNA of the victim was found in the corner of the room.

In efforts to identify the victim, a number of specialist techniques which are not often used in homicide enquiries were utilised.

Professor Gordon Cook, a Professor of Environmental Geochemistry of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre performed Radio Carbon analysis of bones, teeth and hair and identified that the results from the lateral incisor and the second molar indicate that the victim was born between 1971 and 1974 and died between 2003 and 2006. This put the age at death as somewhere between 29 and 35 years. This tallied with the anthropologist’s report which stated that the likely age was between 30 and 45 years old.

Facial reconstruction of the skull was created by Dundee University.

There have been no arrests made.

Police are appealing for anyone who thinks they may recognise this man or may have any information on his death to please come forward and contact police on 0208 355 0400.

If you do not wish to speak to police, please contact Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111.