Sudbury – Investigation into the discovery of human remains continues | Suffolk Constabulary

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Sudbury – Investigation into the discovery of human remains continues

The investigation into the discovery of human remains in a Sudbury river two weeks ago is continuing, following the conclusion of searches in the area.

Officers were called at around 4.35pm on Thursday 27 August, 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 30 August, but was not able to establish a cause of death or any form of identification.

Further expert forensic tests have been ongoing as a result and have so far established that the victim was an adult male, who was likely to have been of an athletic or muscular build. The tests will also hopefully help to establish the timescale in which the victim died.

The use of DNA forms a central part of the effort to identify the victim in this case. This includes comparisons being made across a number of both national and international databases and is likely to take some considerable time to complete.

Searches of the River Stour and its banks, between Croft Gate Weir and Brundon Mill, concluded on Sunday 6 September. These were conducted with the assistance of the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit, Essex Police dog handlers and Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue (SULSAR).

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, Head of Crime, said: “We continue to do all we can to identify the deceased and are working with a number of other agencies to assist us in this.

“The UK Missing Persons Bureau hold records on every missing person in the country and where DNA profiles have been obtained, these are held on their database. We have run the initial profile we have of this individual through that database, but have not had a match at this time.

“There are other opportunities that remain open to us and we are continuing to develop these. However, as we have said from the outset, this is an investigation that will take considerable time.

“Following 10 days of searches in and around the River Stour, this work has now finished and the areas which had been closed off to members of the public are now open again.

“I would once again like to thank local residents for their patience whilst we completed this work and also the officers from the Metropolitan Police and Essex Police, along with the volunteers from SULSAR, for their assistance with the searches. We are also receiving ongoing support from the National Crime Agency and the experts that they are able to provide, for which we are also grateful.  

“We are continuing to appeal for anyone with information about this shocking discovery to come forward. Someone must know who the deceased was, or have information about who deposited the remains, so please come forward and talk to us – any information you give us 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

Previous release | 4 September 2020

Detectives investigating the discovery of human remains in a Sudbury river, are able to confirm the victim was an adult male who is likely to have been of an athletic/muscular build. 

Officers were called at around 4.35pm on Thursday 27 August, after the remains were found inside two black bin bags in the River Stour, near Meadow Gate and Croft Bridge.

At this stage, further forensic tests will need to be conducted in order to find out more about the partial remains. It is hoped these tests, along with other enquiries, will assist in establishing the person’s identity.

The expert analysis of the remains which has taken place over the past week has indicated that the male’s death did not occur in the recent past. The results have shown this would have happened some months ago or possibly even further back than that.

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, Head of Crime, said: “Once again, I would appeal for anyone with information they feel may be relevant to come forward.

“While we will continue searching the River Stour and the areas around it, I would particularly like to appeal to anyone who may have seen other black bin bags in an unusual location, such as a hedge or a ditch, to get in contact with us.

“Someone out there will know who the person is, or who is responsible for his death.

“However, as we have said from the outset this is likely to be a complex and time-consuming investigation. We are continuing to seek expert advice and are utilising officers with various specialist skills as the inquiry progresses.

“We are very aware of - and are sensitive to - the feelings of families with missing people or those whose loved ones are involved in unsolved cases. We will seek to provide any updates as soon as we can be certain about the information we have. Where it has been possible to do so, we have done that already.

“I would like to thank the public for the support they have shown over the past week, as well as the assistance we have received from colleagues in other forces.

“Finally, I would like to reassure the residents of Sudbury, as well as the people of Suffolk, that we will do everything we can to bring this inquiry to a successful conclusion.”

Divers from the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit will continue to help with the searching of the river and dog handlers from Essex Police are also assisting the Major Investigation Team. 

House-to-house enquiries in the area have been progressing, with officers speaking to the residents of over 100 properties so far, with more to approach.

In excess of 140 witnesses have also come forward to police as a result of the appeals and detectives are in the process of assessing and prioritising this information.

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

Detectives would also like to hear from anyone who may have driven their vehicle in the vicinity of The Croft between Monday 24 August and Thursday 27 August and has a dash cam fitted, to review the footage to see if they captured anything of significance.

Previous release | 3 September 2020

The senior officer leading the murder inquiry following the discovery of human remains in a river in Sudbury, has expressed his ‘extreme gratitude’ for all the support he and his team have been given so far.

Officers were called at around 4.35pm on Thursday 27 August, after the remains were discovered inside two black bin bags, which were recovered from the River Stour near Meadow Gate and Croft Bridge. 

The search of the river and its banks is continuing, assisted to date by divers from the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit and dog handlers from Essex Police.  

The expert analysis of the remains is ongoing and some initial forensic results have been received, these will now be developed and opportunities for possible matching progressed. 

House-to-house enquiries in the area has been progressing, with officers speaking to the residents of over 100 properties so far, with more to approach.

In excess of 140 witnesses have also come forward to police as a result of the appeals and detectives are in the process of assessing and prioritising this information.

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Brown, the Senior Investigating Officer, said: “Detailed forensic investigations on the remains is continuing and, although progress is being made every day, as we have said previously, this will be a long and painstaking process to complete, as we strive to establish the identity of the victim.

“Such a complex investigation is a real team effort and I offer my extreme gratitude for all the expertise, knowledge and support we have received from various specialist and operational resources. 

“Of course, part of that team effort is the support and understanding from the Sudbury community – we remain extremely appreciative of the patience they have shown us while a large police presence remains in the vicinity of the River Stour and whilst we conduct enquiries elsewhere in the town.”

Anyone with information about this discovery 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 

Detectives would also like to hear from anyone who may have driven their vehicle in the vicinity of The Croft between Monday 24 August and Thursday 27 August and has a dash cam fitted, to review the footage to see if they captured anything of significance. 

Previous release | 1 September 2020

Two witnesses have been identified by detectives investigating the discovery of human remains in a river in Sudbury, as searches are set to continue this week.

Officers were called at around 4.35pm on Thursday 27 August, after the remains were discovered inside two black bin bags, which were recovered from the River Stour near Meadow Gate and Croft Bridge.

A member of the public had spotted the bags in the river earlier in the afternoon and reported them to a ranger, who in turn called police following the discovery of the contents.

A Home Office post-mortem examination of the remains was completed on Sunday 30 August, but was not able to establish any form of identification or cause of death and further tests are now taking place. This will be a lengthy process.

Yesterday, Monday 31 August, officers issued an appeal to trace three specific witnesses who may have information that could assist the inquiry.

Two of these witnesses are boys who tried to help the person who made the discovery by attempting to retrieve the bags from the river. These witnesses have now been identified.

The third witness has still not been traced. He is a man who was seen swimming in the Victorian Bathing Pool on Thursday 20 August and although this was a week before the remains were discovered, he could be someone who is a regular user of the river and so may have seen something of significance.

The extensive searches of the river and its banks are set to continue over the coming days. This has been assisted to date by divers from the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit and dog handlers from Essex Police.

Residents can expect to see search officers walking the river banks whilst a drone is flown overhead at the same time. The drone provides the best opportunity to clear large areas of ground quickly and efficiently.

One of the scenes has this afternoon, Tuesday 1 September, been released so it can now be used by members of the public again. This is the section of footpath between Croft Bridge and Croft Gate Weir.

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Brown, the Senior Investigating Officer, said: “The main focus of the investigation at this stage is to identify the victim. Until we have been able to do this, it limits the other enquiries that can be completed.

“We are working with a number of specialists who are helping us to try and achieve this. The Home Office post-mortem examination was conducted by a forensic pathologist, who was supported by a forensic anthropologist. This is usual procedure in a case such as this.

“Other forensic experts are currently analysing the remains and working to obtain a DNA profile. This could be the key to identifying our victim, but is by no means guaranteed.

“We are also engaging with the National Crime Agency and their specialist officers to see how they can assist us with the investigation. Again, this is perfectly normal in an inquiry of this nature.

“In addition to the support from the Metropolitan Police divers, we have also had assistance from Essex Police officers with cadaver dogs to search the river banks. Though unfortunately, the dogs did not find anything of significance.

 “We are continuing to appeal to trace the swimmer from the week before, but would also like to hear from anyone else who is a regular user of the river and may have any information that can assist us.

“Local residents can expect to see a continued presence from officers in the town this week and I would encourage anyone with information to approach them and speak to them directly.

“We will aim to lift cordons and release areas back to the public as soon as we possibly can, but as stated before this work must be thorough and takes time. Please bear with us and we continue to be grateful for the support and patience of the people of Sudbury.”

Anyone with information about this discovery 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 Contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111, or via their online form: www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Detectives would also like to hear from anyone who may have driven their vehicle in the vicinity of The Croft since Monday 24 August and has a dash cam fitted, to review the footage to see if they captured anything of significance.

Previous release | 31 August 2020

Detectives from the Major Investigation Team at Suffolk Police are issuing an appeal for further witnesses, including two boys and a swimmer, to come forward to assist with the ongoing murder investigation in Sudbury.

Suffolk Police launched a murder inquiry following the discovery of bags containing bones, confirmed to be human remains, in the River Stour in Sudbury on Thursday 27 August.

Officers are still keen to speak to anyone who uses the river and associated footpaths regularly, including anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area, or who may have seen the bags in the water. 

Temporary Detective Superintendent Mike Brown, the Senior Investigating Officer at Suffolk Police said: 

“Today we are appealing for further witnesses to come forward, including three specific witnesses in particular, who may be able to assist with our ongoing investigation. 

First, we would like to speak to two boys who assisted the witness who found the bags in the water on Thursday 27 August, and tried to help recover them.

Secondly, we would like to speak to a man who was seen swimming in the area of the river known locally as the ‘Victorian bathing pool’ on Thursday 20 August.

We would still like to speak to anyone who uses the route regularly and to ask anyone who may have dash-cam footage of the area of the Croft to check this, in case there is anything relevant to the investigation.

Thank you to those individuals who have already come forward with information and also to the local community for their patience as we continue with our searches.”


Cordons are still in place at the scene, with search officers from Suffolk Police and police divers from the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit remaining at the scene today and tomorrow.

The Croft Road footbridge and footpath between Meadow Gate and Croft Gate will remain closed for searches and the emergency navigation closure for the River Stour at the Croft Road footbridge remains in place.

Anyone with any information that might assist the inquiry is asked to contact the Major Investigation Team via the online portal here:

https://mipp.police.uk/operation/363720N59-PO1

Or please call 101 and ask to speak to the Major Investigation Team quoting reference number 37/49998/20.

Crimestoppers – Contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111, or via their online form: www.crimestoppers-uk.org .

Previous release | 30 August 2020

A post-mortem examination has been conducted on human bones which were discovered in Sudbury last week. 

Officers were called shortly after 4.35pm on Thursday 27 August, after bones were discovered inside two black bin bags, which were recovered from the River Stour near Meadow Gate and Croft Bridge. 

A member of the public had spotted the bags in the river earlier in the afternoon and reported them to a ranger, who in turn called police following the discovery of the bones.

A shopping trolley was found a little further along the river from where the bags were located. The bags were moved by the ranger before their contents had been established. 

As a result of this, two police scenes are currently in place – one around the area of the river where the bags were discovered and the other around the spot where the bags were moved to.

A Home Office post-mortem examination of the remains was completed this morning, Sunday 30 August, but at this time it has not been possible to establish any form of identification or cause of death and further tests are now required. This will be a lengthy process. 

Temporary Detective Superintendent Mike Brown, the Senior Investigating Officer, said: “This initial examination has unfortunately not been able to move us any further forward at this stage. The remains will now be subject to further specialist forensic tests which we hope will provide us with more information. 

“This process will take time, so it may be a little while until we are able to provide any further significant updates. 

“At the forefront of all of our minds is that this was a person – somebody’s child, parent, partner or sibling – and at all times the bones will be treated with the utmost respect and dignity as the tests are completed. 

“I would appeal to anyone who believes they have information about this discovery to contact us without delay. This includes anyone who believes they may know who deposited the remains, or anyone who saw someone carrying two black bin bags towards the river over the past week. 

“We understand this discovery will have shocked and alarmed many people, but as stated before this is an incredibly rare occurrence and we do not believe there is any wider threat to anyone or cause for concern. Officers will remain at the scene over the coming days and extra patrols are taking place to provide reassurance.

“Finally, I just want to say thank you to all the local residents who have so far assisted us with this investigation, by either providing us with information, or simply for their patience as we conduct our enquiries.” 

Specialist trained officers are continuing to search the immediate area around the river and its banks, with the assistance of divers from the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit. 

To enable this work to be completed safely and preserve the scenes, officers have had to close the footpath between Meadow Gate and Croft Gate (including Croft Road footbridge).

An emergency navigation closure for the River Stour at the Croft Road footbridge has also been put in place. These are expected to remain in place over the next few days, towards the middle of the week. 

Anyone with information about this discovery 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. 

Detectives would also like to hear from anyone who may have driven their vehicle in the vicinity of The Croft since Monday 24 August and has a dash cam fitted, to review the footage to see if they captured anything of significance. 

Information regarding searches & closures | 29 August 2020

As part of the ongoing investigation in Sudbury following the discovery of human bones in the River Stour, police have had to close the footpath between Meadow Gate and Croft Gate (including Croft Road footbridge).

An emergency navigation closure for the River Stour at the Croft Road footbridge has also been put in place.

These measures are to allow officers to safely search the river banks and the river itself, which is being done with the assistance of divers from the Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit.

The closures are expected to remain in place into early next week. Officers would like to thank local residents for their continued patience and understanding as they carry-out this very important work. 
 

Previous release | 28 August 2020 - 5.40pm

A murder inquiry has been launched following the discovery of bags containing bones in a river in Sudbury.

Officers were called just after 4.35pm yesterday afternoon, Thursday 27 August, after bones were discovered inside two black bin bags, which were recovered from the River Stour near Meadow Gates and Croft Bridge.

A member of the public had spotted the bags in the river earlier in the afternoon and reported them to a ranger, who in turn called police following the discovery of the bones.

A shopping trolley was found a little further along the river from where the bags were located. The bags were moved by the ranger before their contents had been established.

As a result of this, two police scenes are currently place – one around the area of the river where the bags were discovered and the other around the spot where the bags were moved to.

The bones have now been confirmed to be human remains and due to the suspicious circumstances in which they were found, detectives are treating this as a murder investigation.

A sensitive and methodical process will now take place over the coming days as the bones are examined and forensic tests are conducted. Various other investigative work and searches will also be carried-out, which will need to utilise a number of specialist resources.

This process will be time-consuming and so there are not likely to be any significant developments in the early stages.

A Home Office post-mortem examination is due to take place tomorrow, Saturday 29 August, which will hopefully assist in moving the inquiry forward, but again the results from this may not be immediately available. 

Inspector Kevin Horton, Local Policing Commander for Sudbury, said: “We appreciate that local residents are likely to find this discovery alarming and as such we will be increasing police patrols in the town to provide reassurance. Officers are also likely to remain at the scene over the weekend and in to the early part of next week.

“Discoveries such as this are extremely rare – especially in Suffolk – and as such we do not believe there is any cause for concern to members of the public.

“We would ask anyone with information about this discovery to make contact with the Major Investigation Team immediately. This includes anyone who believes they saw the bags in the river prior to yesterday afternoon, or saw the shopping trolley either in this location or elsewhere along the river.”

Anyone with information about this discovery 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.

Detectives would also like to hear from anyone who may have driven their vehicle in the vicinity of the croft since Monday 24 August and has a dash cam fitted, to review the footage to see if they captured anything of significance.

Previous release | 28 August 2020 - 12.10am

Police are investigating after bags containing bones were discovered in a river in Sudbury.

Officers were called shortly after 4.35pm yesterday, Thursday 27 August, following the discovery in the river near Meadow Gates and Croft Bridge.

Police believe the bags contain human remains.

A cordon remains in place while the investigation continues.

Officers would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity close to the river, where a submerged shopping trolley and the bags containing the bones were discovered nearby.

Alternatively, anyone who has seen the bags in the river or knows how they came to be in the water or who uses the route regularly is asked to come forward with any relevant information.

Anyone with any information or who has any knowledge of the incident is asked to contact Suffolk police, quoting reference: 37/49998/20

Website – http://www.suffolk.police.uk/contact-us/existing-report-update

Crimestoppers – Contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111, or via their online form: www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Phone – Call 101

Please note in the event of an emergency you should always call 999