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Criminal probe Gardaí appeal for help to solve mystery of unidentified skeleton of elderly woman in Cork

  • Woman's identity has baffled Gardaí with officers now convinced the key to solving the mystery lies with the public
  • Gardaí confirmed they are treating the discovery of the skeletal remains as a criminal investigation

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An item of clothing was also recovered which is described as a white nightdress type garment (image attached)

An item of clothing was also recovered which is described as a white nightdress type garment (image attached)

An item of clothing was also recovered which is described as a white nightdress type garment (image attached)

GARDAÍ have launched a major public appeal to try to identify the mystery woman whose skeletal remains were discovered by an abandoned Cork railway line last January.

A spokesperson confirmed they are treating the discovery of the skeletal remains as a criminal investigation.

However, for operational reasons Gardaí declined to say whether the investigation could be upgraded to a murder inquiry.

They also refused to speculate on whether the woman's body may have been brought to the site by an unknown party.

The woman, who is believed to be aged in her 70s, has not been matched to any missing person profile despite exhaustive DNA, dental and forensic tests since the skeleton was discovered on January 5.

Her identity has baffled Gardaí with officers now convinced the key to solving the mystery lies with the public.

Officers stressed that their priority at this time is identifying the elderly woman found beside the abandoned railway line – and stressed they believe someone in the local community may have critical information as regards the Garda investigation.

Superintendent Adrian Gamble today appealed for anyone with information about the woman or her possible identity to contact Gardaí.

"An Garda Síochána are determined to formally identify the deceased and treat her with the respect and dignity that she deserves," he said.

He urged anyone with information - no matter how trivial - to contact Gardaí to assist their investigation.

Supt Gamble revealed the woman was in her 70s at the time of her death, was 5’ to 5’ 2” in height, had a large frame or build, wore dentures and her joints indicated she suffered from arthritis.

The grim find came on January 5 when workmen developing a new €19.8m greenway on the old Midleton-Youghal railway line in east Cork were shocked to spot what they believed was a human skull in undergrowth which had just been cleared.

All work was immediately suspended at the Roxborough site near the Dungourney Road - and Gardaí later uncovered further skeletal remains as part of a painstaking two week search operation.

While it was initially believed the bones were male and possibly dated to the War of Independence era, the remains were later confirmed as those of an older woman.

The bones are believed to have been in situ for at least five years but possibly up to ten years.

Gardaí have obtained a genetic profile coupled with dental analysis, carbon dating and forensic results from old clothing and a piece of religious jewellery found at the site.

False teeth were also found at the site. Detectives worked through a 30 year record of missing persons in a bid to narrow their search.

National missing persons files were cross-referenced with the search extended beyond Cork.

However, Gardaí do not have any matching missing person file from the local area.

Fragments of clothing found wrapped around one of the bones was said to indicate old-style nightwear normally associated with pensioners.

A piece of religious jewellery - a crucifix on a chain - was also found by one of the vertebrae.

A full post mortem examination was conducted and a forensic anthropologist has been assisting Gardaí with their investigation.

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