The site where the woman's body was found. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

The site where the woman's body was found. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

Police believe a woman whose body was found on the slopes of one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks may have been a ‘Thai bride’.

A cold-case team of detectives said the mystery woman was probably killed elsewhere and her body taken to the remote site on the slopes of Pen-y-ghent.

The woman, whose body was discovered by walkers near the Pennine Way in September 2004, has never been identified, but North Yorkshire Police said she is from south-east Asia.

Recent forensic tests on the dead woman’s hair suggest she may have lived for some time in south Cumbria or north Lancashire.

A team from North Yorkshire and Cleveland Police’s cold case review unit has been looking into the death and revealed new information in the hope members of the public will help them solve the case.

The woman was found by a group on 20 September 2004 in a beck near a pothole at Sell Gill Holes, 2km north of Horton in Ribblesdale. North Yorkshire Police said: “There has never been an established cause of death but the circumstances have remained suspicious.

“A post-mortem examination suggested that she had been dead for between one and three weeks, putting the time of her death between 31 August and 13 September 2004.”

An inquest in May 2007 recorded an open verdict.

Adam Harland, manager of the cold case review unit, said enquiries linked to her clothing and jewellery also confirmed she had been in the UK for at least two years and may have come to the country as a ‘Thai bride’.

Mr Harland said: “This term does not necessarily mean the woman comes from Thailand, but that she is a lady who has taken up a relationship with a white gentleman and has come back to live in the UK in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

“That would probably mean that her partner is older than her and quite likely has led a more solitary, individual life prior to their relationship taking place.

“Whoever her partner was in the last days of her life is the person we need to locate and speak to.”

Mr Harland is urging people in north Lancashire and south Cumbria to think back to this time and see if they recall a woman from south-east Asia who may have been in relationship with a local man.

“It is probable that others who knew this lady were told that the relationship had ended and that she had ‘gone home’,” he said.

“However the hypothesis we prefer is that she had been killed somewhere else, possibly in her own home, before her body was transported and deposited in this remote location. We believe a vehicle was used to take her there, probably a 4×4 due to the difficult terrain.”

The artist's impression of the woman

The artist's impression of the woman

The physical details of the woman have been issued previously, along with an artist’s impression which Mr Harland says should be viewed with caution.

He said: “I am more interested in matching the circumstances of the woman’s life rather than matching someone to original artist’s impression. Someone out there must know who she is.”

The woman is described as south-east Asian which encompasses China, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, 4ft 11in (1.5m), tall aged 20 to 40, about 10 stones (63.5kg), brown eyes, dark-brown shoulder-length hair, both ears pierced, with a distinctive gap between her front lower teeth which would have been noticeable when she smiled.

Police previously issued an international social media campaign to try to identify the woman, with messages in English, Filipino, and Thai, but have now turned their attention closer to home as the new evidence suggested she may have settled in north-west England.

The mystery victim was buried in the churchyard of St Oswald’s Church in nearby Horton in Ribblesdale. The parish council donated a plot and villagers launched an appeal to pay for a headstone for the woman’s grave after initial enquiries failed to turn up any clues to her identity.

When the woman was found, she was wearing green Marks and Spencer jeans, size 12, light-coloured socks, a white bra and black pants size 10-12. A turquoise and white horizontally striped t-shirt, size 10-12, was found nearby.

She wore a gold ring on the third finger of her left hand. The ring was 22 carat or above and was manufactured in Thailand. Both ears were pierced, but she wore no earrings. There was no sign of any footwear, jacket or baggage.

Police said they believed she was a non-smoker.

From evidence of toothbrush use she was probably right-handed, they said. The woman had a coil fitted, but had had a pregnancy in the past.

They even said there was an indication that when she was young her growth was arrested because of a childhood disease such as measles.

As part of the investigation, the Sell Gill Holes cave system was searched four times, including sections only accessible by skilled cave divers.

Walkers using the Pennine Way and tackling the Three Peaks were traced and contacted via hostels, hotels and cafes. Posters were put up throughout the area and house-to-house inquiries were made in all the villages nearby.

Walkers on the Pennine Way were quizzed following the discovery of the body

Walkers on the Pennine Way were quizzed following the discovery of the body

Witness-appeal letters, in a variety of languages, were sent to holidaymakers staying at hotels and B&Bs in the Dales, all to no avail.

Anyone with information that could help the investigation is asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the force control room.

Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Identity of woman whose body was found 15 years ago on Pennine Way revealed
  2. Police probing mystery Pen-y-ghent death say they have received a name
  3. Police launch international social media campaign to solve Pennine Way body mystery
  4. Appeal to buy gravestone for mystery woman found on Dales fell
  5. Woman killed by cows on Pennine Way is named