'The woman with the flower tattoo': British murder victim identified after 31 year search

Rita Roberts was identified as the victim after a family member saw details of her distinctive tattoo and contacted police. Credit: Interpol

A murder victim dubbed “the woman with the flower tattoo” has been identified after 31 years following an international appeal for information.

The body of a woman was found against a grate in a river in Antwerp, Belgium on June 3, 1992, with evidence showing she had been murdered.

For more than three decades she remained unidentified, triggering Belgian, Dutch and German police to launch a joint appeal with Interpol in May.

Operation Identify Me - a mission to identify 22 women who were believed to be murder victims - appealed for information on the woman based on a tattoo on her left forearm of a black flower with green leaves and with “R’Nick” written underneath.

Rita Roberts was found dead on a grate along a river in Antwerp, Belgium on June 3, 1992. Credit: Belgium Federal Police

It led police to Rita Roberts, after a family member saw details of her distinctive tattoo and contacted police.

Ms Roberts, who moved to Antwerp from Cardiff in February 1992 when she was 31, last had contact with her relatives via a postcard sent in May that year.

Her family said in a statement: “The news was shocking and heartbreaking. Our passionate, loving and free-spirited sister was cruelly taken away.

“There are no words to truly express the grief we felt at that time, and still feel today.

“Whilst the news has been difficult to process, we are incredibly grateful to have uncovered what happened to Rita.

“We miss her deeply but are thankful for the excellent support and care of Belgium Missing Persons, Antwerp Police, Interpol and Durham Police in the UK.

“This cross-border collaboration has given a missing girl back her identity, and enabled the family to know she is at rest.”

Belgian police are appealing for anyone with information about the circumstances surrounding her death to get in touch via the Interpol website.

Ms Roberts family described her as a "beautiful person who adored travelling," adding she loved her family "especially her nephews and nieces, and always wanted to have a family of her own."

“She had the ability to light up a room, and wherever she went, she was the life and soul of the party. We hope that wherever she is now, she is at peace.”

Interpol secretary general Jurgen Stock said he hopes this breakthrough brings "some closure" to her family.

"Such cases underline the vital need to connect police worldwide, especially when missing persons are involved," he added.

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