Corstorphine Hill murder: Killer left no DNA

DCI Keith Hardie with the image of the Corstorphine Hill murder victim. Picture: Julie Bull
DCI Keith Hardie with the image of the Corstorphine Hill murder victim. Picture: Julie Bull
Have your say

THE killer of a woman whose dismembered remains were found buried in a shallow grave on Corstorphine Hill left none of their own DNA or other forensic material at the scene, detectives said today.

Forensic experts spent days combing through every piece of potential evidence gathered from the body and around the makeshift grave in the hope that the killer made a crucial mistake.

But whoever was responsible for the gruesome murder did not leave behind a single bodily trace which could aid the police hunt – in a move branded “highly unusual” by police sources.

They say it appears the 
killer has taken “extreme care” to avoid leaving any personal markers and believe they could even be dealing with a suspect – or multiple suspects – who have anatomical or butchery experience.

Detectives are now hoping that a visual reconstruction of the woman’s face released yesterday will provide the breakthrough in identifying the victim.

The image of the woman will be plastered around the Capital and shown to staff at hotels and bed and breakfasts in a bid to jog people’s memories. Her age is estimated at between 40 and 50.

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie, who is leading the investigation, confirmed that no forensic traces, other than from the victim, were found on Corstorphine Hill, but added that he was “very pleased” with the quality of the image, which he believes could represent a “big missing piece of the jigsaw”.

DCI Hardie said: “Identifying this woman is key to moving forward with this investigation and we believe if someone knows this woman then they would recognise her from the image we now have.”

However, a former CID detective, who has worked on a number of major murder inquiries, said the blow means the incident room could be dealing with a madman who washed the hacked-up body parts to ensure they contained no traces of DNA.

He said: “To leave no trace would have required some care from the perpetrator. A hair, eyelash, bit of skin, blood droplet – any of these things could have left behind DNA.

“There are examples of dismemberment where the act is carried out in a bath or somewhere with a water supply. It obviously did not take place on Corstorphine Hill. That could mean the killer has been able to clean the body parts to ensure they are as pristine as possible.

“No-one is unaware of DNA and its forensic possibilities nowadays, so in situations where you have power over the body you can try to negate that.”

A second highly placed Police Scotland source said officers would have been banking on a forensic pay-off.

He said: “By it’s very nature, dismembering a body has to be a messy business.

“It’s hands on and takes a lot of effort. Bone is incredibly difficult to cut through. Not to shed DNA in that process is quite unusual.

“If I was profiling this suspect, or suspects, I would draw the conclusion scrupulous methodology is at work here; possibly a group; someone who has maybe washed the scene down; and possibly someone with skilled knowledge of butchery or anatomy.”

The image of the woman, whose body was found by a cyclist on June 6, is also being sent to Europol and Interpol.