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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013

    UK - Norfolk, Headless woman, 23-35, pink nightdress, Aug'74

    Police have reopened the cold case of the headless body of a woman, aged 23-35, found wearing a pink nightdress (from M&S) in August 1974. While checking out possible matches, they have cleared several hundred missing persons reports from the period (either found live and well, or deceased).

    she may be a woman known as The Duchess, who lived in Great Yarmouth and may have worked as an escort.
    The woman, who disappeared in the mid-1970s, is thought to have come from Denmark, which fits in with a DNA profile of the body suggesting the woman came from and had lived in that part of Europe.
    Photo of the dress and some unusual rope (possibly agricultural) found with the body at the link.


    More info from when the case was looked at in 2007, when the body was exhumed for a new PM: http://www.lynnnews.co.uk/news/local...-body-1-520094

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    More info here: the victim had given birth at some point in her life, ate a lot of fish and had lived in Scotland.


    The article also looks at unidentified bodies in the UK generally and is an interesting read.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Quote Originally Posted by Ellmau View Post
    More info here: the victim had given birth at some point in her life, ate a lot of fish and had lived in Scotland.


    The article also looks at unidentified bodies in the UK generally and is an interesting read.
    I've just watched the TV programme mentioned at the bottom of that article. This is the link for those who can access it:


    The piece about the unidentified dead starts at 10.35 and the bit about Swaffham Doe specifically at 16.00.

    What they do say in the programme is that isotope testing showed she originated from "central Europe", in a band from Denmark to Italy, and that she had arrived in the UK during the last 6 months of her life.

    She was also a "second stage protein eater", hence the mention of fish in her diet, but this could apply to someone from Italy as much as from Denmark or northern Germany.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    As this case is back on police radar at present, I thought it would be useful to give some background to facilitate any future discussions here and to give a context to any future developments. Although I did not live in Norfolk at the time this body was found, I lived in Norwich (Norfolk's county town and administrative centre) from the mid 1980s for most of the following decade, and 1980s Norfolk was virtually unchanged from 1970s Norfolk.

    A glance at Google maps reveals one very obvious fact: Norfolk sticks out of the eastern side of England and is bounded on two sides, the north and east, by the North Sea. In terms of UK geography, therefore, it is a region one deliberately goes to, not through on the way to somewhere else. Furthermore, it is bounded on the west by The Fens, a low lying area of meandering rivers and meres which was waterlogged until the late 17th century when Dutch engineers were brought in to drain the marshes. (Today it is a major area for sugar beet, potato and vegetable growing.) So until 300 or 350 years ago Norfolk was virtually cut off on a third side as well. Historically, therefore, trade and transport were largely done by water (river or coastal). In short, it is geographically isolated and until recently its native population was insular and suspicious of “incomers”. We “incomers” had a joke amongst ourselves: “Happisburgh, Norfolk. Twinned with Innsmouth, Massachusetts.” It was that sort of place.

    At the time of this murder there were three main groups of “incomers” in the county:

    1. Tourists Norfolk has had a tourist industry since the late 19th century Originally this was focussed on traditional seaside resorts such as Sheringham and Great Yarmouth and later supplemented by holiday parks such as Butlins and Pontins and boating holidays on the Norfolk Broads (flooded mediaeval peat diggings).
    2. Students The University of East Anglia (UEA) was established in Norwich in the mid 1960s. It's a standard concrete-and-glass 1960s university and was the first in the UK to offer Bachelors degrees in Environmental Science. There is also a well-regarded art college in the city.
    3. Military personnel The RAF has had many bases in the area which were originally established during WWII. Today some of these are leased to the USAF, eg Lakenheath.

    There were also two smaller groups of outsiders in the area:

    1. Gypsies and travellers who provided seasonal and itinerant labour for farms across Norfolk and The Fens. These groups have traditionally been suspicious of, indeed hostile to, outsiders, especially the authorities. They therefore tend to sort out internal disputes or issues themselves, often violently.
    2. New Age and hippy types Because of its isolation, there were many large, country properties in Norfolk which could at that time be bought or leased very cheaply and a number large houses and small estates became communes, healing centres and similar. WWOOF had also been founded in the UK in 1971, giving volunteers a chance to live and work on small organic farms in return for board and lodging. Volunteers tended to move around, following agricultural need and chasing different experiences. By definition, these communities tended to be idealistic, perhaps nave, drifters who usually hitchhiked and were therefore vulnerable.

    I said earlier that one goes to rather than through Norfolk. Great Yarmouth has long been the county's main port but it has never had a ferry service to the continent. Freight came into the port and was unloaded there onto lorries to be hauled eastwards towards the Midlands, so there has never been a flow-through of road traffic to and from the continent. The nearest RORO and passenger ferry to the continent was and is at Felixstowe, near Ipswich.

    There were three main roads in and out of the county.

    1. The A12 runs south from Great Yarmouth to Ipswich (Suffolk), Colchester and Chelmsford (Essex) before ending in London.
    2. The A11 runs south west to Cambridge, Newmarket (horse racing centre). Until the late 1980s this was single carriageway as far as the Newmarket Bypass. Dualling was completely by the early 1990s. It now joins the M11 and ends in London.
    3. The A47 runs west from Great Yarmouth, round Norwich, past Kings Lynn, across the Fens to Peterborough and Leicester before joining the M1 with access to all regions of the UK. The Norfolk section of this road was mostly single carriageway in the 1970s and 1980s but has been completely dualled since then. The A47 runs north of Swaffham, about 5 miles from where the body was found.

    I'm going to try to pull together my thoughts about the body and how what has been made public about it might or might not link to the information above, and will post them separately.
    Last edited by MelmothTheLost; 02-08-2016 at 11:13 AM. Reason: formatting.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    An unsolved 1970s case of a headless woman's body found bound in jute and wrapped in a Dundee factory's plastic sheet is being investigated by students in the city...

    The woman's hands were bound with string only manufactured in Dundee.

    The students are scouring 1970s local reports of missing people for clues...

  6. #6
    Oooh I know where this location is. It's VERY isolated and one can only imagine even more so 40 yrs ago.

    My money would be on the escort and then the body being transported and dumped.

    I can see agricultural migrant labour possibly being involved too but not sure how prevalent that was in the 1970s?

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    one theory that police are working on is that she was a prostitute known as "The Duchess" who worked the Great Yarmouth docks under that name and who disappeared in the summer of 1974.
    remains were exhumed in 2008, samples of her toenails, hair and thigh bone were subjected to DNA and isotopic analysis. A full DNA profile was obtained
    independent isotopic analyses indicated that she was probably from the central Europe area including Denmark, Germany, Austria and Northern Italy
    second post-mortem examination of the woman indicated that she probably had at least one child
    she was wearing only a pink 1969 Marks & Spencer nightdress
    Norfolk police are examining a theory that the woman is "The Duchess", a prostitute who lived in Great Yarmouth docks and who disappeared in the summer of 1974 leaving all her possessions behind. "The Duchess" is believed to have arrived in the port town on the Esbjerg Ferry from Denmark. Her clients were lorry drivers who travelled between Esbjerg and Yarmouth using the ferry and she also sometimes accompanied drivers on deliveries in England. She was 2335 years old and 5 feet 2 inches tall. In 197374 she lived for four or five months in the dockers' hut at the Ocean terminal. She also spent time in custody but the records relating to that time have been destroyed

    Her profile in UK national database

    A headless female body was found bound and hidden in a patch of bracken near Swaffam on the Cockley Cley Road.

    Nightwear - Nightdress - Pink - Low cut st michael make, 34/36 bust, frilled halter neck, cream lining

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