Betty Brown murder inquiry mothballed

Betty Brown was last seen on the number 3 bus. Picture: comp

Betty Brown was last seen on the number 3 bus. Picture: comp

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THE family of a grandmother believed to have been murdered by a sex attacker are “resigned” to the likelihood her killer will never be caught, detectives said today.

The semi-naked body of Elizabeth “Betty” Brown, who lived in Gorgie, was found nearly three years ago in Cumbria after a massive eight-month police hunt.

But the decomposition of her remains left scant forensic evidence, while witness sightings of the 55-year-old before she died have dried up.

Detective Inspector Doug Marshall, of Cumbria Constabulary, who is leading the inquiry, said her family has accepted they would not receive “more answers” about Mrs Brown’s grim fate. And he revealed the inquiry is set to be mothballed in the coming weeks after all potential leads came to nothing.

The case will, however, undergo a review every two years to ensure no fresh avenues of inquiry have arisen.

DI Marshall said he believes he will only get to catch the killer if someone has a “change of loyalties” in the future.

He said: “Since the inquest, we’ve had some people come forward with information but when we looked into what they were saying, it didn’t take us any further forward.

“We don’t want to give people false hope. I think the family are resigned to not getting any more answers. As far as they are concerned the case is closed, even though we will continue to review it.

“We have a few actions left to complete, such as tracing some people, but to be honest we’re not expecting those to lead us to the killer. The case will be reviewed every two years to see if we might have missed anything, or whether any new forensic opportunities might have become available.

“However, forensically I think it’s unlikely we can progress the case because of the level of decomposition. There was a lack of forensic detail and that probably won’t change.”

Police launched a missing person case in May 2010 after the mum was last sighted getting off the number 3 bus in Nicolson Street. Investigators believe she then got an X95 coach, which runs between the Capital and Carlisle, to visit her family.

Her body, naked from the waist down, was found in an area covered with nettles. An inquest ruled in February that it was likely Mrs Brown was sexually assaulted before she died, while a deputy coroner ruled out suicide.

But the decomposition of the remains – which were found on January 18, 2011 in woods between Longtown and Gretna – prevented a cause of death being established and an open verdict was recorded.

Mrs Brown’s daughter, Sarah Smith, and sister Maureen McLauchlan appeared on a May 2011 edition of BBC’s Crimewatch, but even that failed to throw up any vital clues. DI Marshall added: “In the future there may be a change of loyalties, [and people] might decide to tell police what they know.”

amcewen@edinburghnews.com