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Historic child homicide burial search in rural woodland

Pringle, Jamie K; Ruffell, Alastair; Wisniewski, Kristopher D; Davenward, Ben; Heaton, Vivienne; Hobson, Luke


Alastair Ruffell

Kristopher D Wisniewski

Ben Davenward

Vivienne Heaton

Luke Hobson


The cold case search for clandestine graves can be challenging due to the length of time elapsed since the crime and the search environment changing itself. This paper reports on a cold case search for “Christine”, a young girl who was reported missing in the mid-1970s in the East Midlands, UK. Once a search sub-area was determined by case reports and new intelligence in rural woodland, a police ground search proved unsuccessful. A multi-phased geoforensic search investigation, using remote sensing and UAV drones, metal detector, EM and dGPS surveys, was subsequently undertaken, with collected data processed and analysed. Results showed 36 discrete dGPS-surveyed metal detector and 3 EM priority targets to be identified which were all intrusively investigated but nothing case-relevant was found. Study implications suggest careful multi-phase remote and geoforensic investigations can give confidence in cold case no-body searches, saving police operational time and costs in such cold case investigations.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 13, 2023
Online Publication Date Jun 17, 2023
Deposit Date Jul 4, 2023
Journal Forensic Science International: Reports
Print ISSN 0379-0738
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 100324