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Tragic discovery DNA and dental records key to identifying woman's remains found in Cork

A workman operating a digger at 4pm last Tuesday at Roxborough outside Midleton, Co Cork, was shocked to spot what he immediately feared was a human skull.

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TESTING: Dr Margaret Bolster. Photo: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD

TESTING: Dr Margaret Bolster. Photo: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD

TESTING: Dr Margaret Bolster. Photo: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD

DNA and dental records hold the key to establishing the identity of a woman whose skeleton was discovered by an old Cork railway line.

Gardaí believe the bones, some of which were found wrapped in cloth with a small piece of religious jewellery, are more recent than initially suspected.

However, preliminary indications are that the remains do not fit the profile of any of Cork's major missing person cases.

The remains were found by workmen clearing part of the old Midleton-Youghal railway for conversion into a €19.8m greenway.

A workman operating a digger at 4pm last Tuesday at Roxborough outside Midleton, Co Cork, was shocked to spot what he immediately feared was a human skull.

The area was immediately sealed off and an exhaustive examination of the site by gardaí yielded further bones, some of which displayed signs of animal activity.

Almost a full skeleton has now been recovered.

Garda sources stressed that detailed tests are now required to confirm an age profile for the deceased.

While the skull has been confirmed as that of an adult woman, tests are ongoing to determine that the other bones recovered are those of the same individual.

However, one source indicated all the preliminary signs point towards the woman involved being aged somewhere between 55 and 85 years.

Fragments of disintegrated clothing found at the scene are also consistent with belonging to a much older woman.

The highest profile missing person in Cork is Tina Satchwell from Youghal who was 45 when she vanished without trace on March 20, 2017.

Major searches off both the east Cork coast and in a Castlemartyr woodland failed to reveal any clue of her whereabouts. Her husband, Richard, has maintained she is alive and has pleaded with her to return home.

Gardaí said they are satisfied Tina never left Ireland.

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No trace of Tina Satchwell has yet been found

No trace of Tina Satchwell has yet been found

No trace of Tina Satchwell has yet been found

However, preliminary indications are that the remains found in Midleton are those of a much older woman and that they have likely been in situ for longer than five years.

Gardaí hope religious jewellery found by one of the bones could be crucial in identifying the remains. It was initially suspected the remains were historic, dating back to the early 20th century and those of an adult male, possibly linked to the War of Independence.

However, detectives believe the bones are more recent, possibly dating to between the last five and 25 years. The bones have now been removed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for examination by assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster and a forensic anthropologist.

The skull was examined in detail at CUH on Friday with special focus on the remaining teeth for dental records.

There was no sign of trauma or violence to the skull.

A full list of missing persons from the greater east Cork area over the past 50 years is being compiled.

Detectives hope forensic tests will determine whether the remains were buried or may simply have been dumped into undergrowth.

Gardaí said they are now awaiting the results of expert tests that will include detail records, carbon dating and DNA sampling. One source said they were hopeful of identifying the remains given the condition of the bones, skull and teeth.

"Gardaí are continuing to investigate the discovery of suspected skeletal remains found in Roxborough near Midleton, Co Cork, at approximately 4.30pm on Tuesday, January 5," a spokesperson has said.

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