Detectives appeal for help to solve Staffordshire mystery spanning half a century

Tuesday, 27th June 2017

DETECTIVES are appealing to the public to try and crack a Staffordshire mystery that spans almost half a century.

It was March 1971 – the year decimal currency was introduced.

A little after 7.30pm on 27 March 1971, an off-duty special constable made a grim discovery while walking in the Newton Road area of Burton-on-Trent.
He saw a fragment of bone, which turned out to be the skull of a man buried in a shallow grave close to the River Trent.

Despite previous appeals and investigations police have never been able to identify the man who was found buried with his hands tied behind his back.

Although the man’s body was discovered in March 1971 it was estimated he had been buried for between 6-12 months, so would have been brought to the site in 1970.

Now detectives are using the latest techniques science can offer – carrying out a facial reconstruction and using familial DNA analysis.

Detective Inspector Dan Ison, of Staffordshire Police’s Major and Organised Crime department, made an appeal on BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow today (June 27). He believes someone out there knows the identity of the man.

He has worked closely with Professor Caroline Wilkinson of Liverpool University – a renowned expert in facial reconstruction – in a bid to finally resolve the mystery. The latest technology and methods have been used to reconstruct Fred, as he is affectionately known by detectives.

Inspector Ison is also using familial DNA analysis in a bid to ID the man. Staffordshire Police is only the second Force to use this process to identify a body. Familial DNA generates possible parental and sibling matches from DNA extracted from the man’s bone.

“Someone knows this man’s identity. He’s someone’s brother or friend or son and, despite the passing of so many years, we are determined to find out who he is.

“This is the key to unlocking this mystery. Forty-six years is a long time, but we have never given up on trying to solve this case. We’d appeal for anyone who has information that might help to come forward and talk to us.”

A previous appeal, and reconstruction, took place in 2006, but DI Ison said this was likely to be the last appeal the Force would make.

The man is described as a white male, late twenties/early thirties, of slight build with medium short brown hair no longer than 3 inches in length.

He had received extensive dental work.

DI Ison is also appealing for anyone who may have known a missing person from north Wales called John Henry Jones.

Mr Jones, who was aged 27, lived in Trevor near Llangollen and was reported missing in autumn 1970. His dental records are similar to the man police are seeking to identify. DI Ison said he was keen to eliminate Mr Jones from enquiries.

Anyone with information should contact 101 (Staffordshire Police) giving reference 103 of June 26 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.