Corstorphine Hill murder: Body DNA sent to Europol

Police hope Europol will be able to identify the victim from her DNA. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Police hope Europol will be able to identify the victim from her DNA. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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DETECTIVES investigating the murder of a woman whose dismembered body was found on Corstorphine Hill have sent her DNA profile to Europol in a bid to identify her.

Officers are hoping foreign police forces may have the victim’s DNA on their national databases as the push to discover her identity continues.

The murder probe was launched after a cyclist stumbled across a head protruding from a shallow grave on June 6.

Police believe that the murdered woman was dismembered before being transported to the makeshift burial site in a holdall.

Europol, based in The Hague, is the European Union’s law enforcement agency that handles criminal intelligence.

It is in liaision with hundreds of different law enforcement organisations, covering all 27 member states of the European Union and many other forces worldwide.
A Police Scotland source said officers on the murder inquiry team will be working “hand in glove” with back-room forensic staff to establish the victim’s identity.

He said: “The first thing the guys on the team would want is DNA from the dismembered victim. Once you have that unique touchstone it opens up a world of opportunity.

“It would be checked against the national DNA database for any matches domestically across Britain. But they’d also open it up globally. Other forces across the world now routinely swab for DNA as well, offering us a vital opportunity to match the victim’s profile.

“At the moment the hunt is not so much about my colleagues in CID hoping for a breakthrough, the real hard graft is being done by the guys in the white lab coats. Modern murder hunts are all about forensics. Get that right – and get a breakthrough there – and you’ve as good as caught your killer.”

The dead woman is described as being white, between 32 and 60 years old, with fair hair and about 5ft 2in tall. She could have been buried between one and six months ago.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police have circulated the profile of the victim to Europol and are following up requests as a result of this. Inquiries are ongoing and we are appealing for anyone with information to contact us.”

Anyone with information can call Police Scotland on 101.

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the inquiry, appeared on the BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow programme last week to appeal for help in identifying the woman.

A claddagh ring, which has Irish Catholic connections and is popular among travellers, and three other rings, were found on the body.

DCI Hardie said his team could not rule out the possibility they had been planted by the killer to “distract” detectives.

The TV appeal sparked several calls from witnesses who saw a grey or gold Renault Scenic in Corstorphine Road, near the entrance to Corstorphine Hill, on two separate occasions in April, at about 10pm. Officers are still trying to trace the owner.