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mystery case DNA results now key to solving the mystery of female railway skeleton


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Gardaí hope to have a DNA profile within a fortnight of the mystery older woman whose skeleton was discovered by an old Cork railway line.

Detectives believe the genetic profile coupled with dental analysis, carbon dating and forensic results from old clothing and a piece of religious jewellery will be critical to identifying the woman.

Gardaí stressed they have not identified the individual and are currently working through a 30-year record of missing persons in a bid to narrow their search.

National missing persons files are now being cross-referenced with the search extended beyond Cork. If the preliminary older age profile of the missing woman proves accurate, gardaí do not have a matching missing person file from the local area.

However, gardaí are increasingly hopeful of a breakthrough given the large quantity of material they have discovered from the east Cork site.

Almost an entire skeleton has now been recovered with the garda investigation boosted by the final discovery of a number of false teeth and a lower mandible or jaw bone, all believed to be from the same individual.

The site at Roxborough off the Dungourney Road near Midleton in east Cork has now been reopened.

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

All work was immediately suspended 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 back to the War of Independence era, gardaí are now convinced the remains are those of an older woman.

The remains are believed to have been in situ for at least five years but they could possibly have been there up to 10 years.

A preliminary profile had indicated a woman aged somewhere from 55 to 75 years.

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 was found by one of the vertebrae. The site is located just off the old railway line and close to a river, a bridge and a local road.

Gardaí said the nature of their investigation would now be determined by the results of the post-mortem examination, forensic anthropological report and the DNA results.

No cause of death has so far been determined. A number of bones were marked but tests are under way to determine whether these were linked to animal activity.

Forensic Science Ireland is expected to have some test results ready within a fortnight. One source said that if the DNA fingerprint profile didn’t offer a breakthrough, gardaí may consider an appeal with photos of the jewellery and clothing recovered.

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