1. ITV Report

Could 84-year-old murder mystery finally be solved?

The unknown man is buried at St Edmund church in Hardingstone Photo: ITV News Anglia

In 1930 a blazing car was found in the village of Hardingstone, just outside Northampton. Inside police found the body of a man, but today who he was is still a mystery.

Now though, after searching through the archives, scientists at the University of Leicester have taken samples of the man's DNA. It could take them closer to finally uncovering the man's identity.

Known as 'The Blazing Car Murder', the man's body was found in a burning Morris Minor on a quiet road leading into Hardingstone village in November 1930. For what was then a rural farming community, the discovery was a huge shock.

The man's body was found in a burning Morris Minor

Although the villagers did not know who he was they clubbed together to pay for his burial, and many came to his funeral to pay their respects. To this day the man is buried at St Edmund Church, his grave marked with a wooden cross.

Many came to the man's funeral Credit: Adrian Bell

His murderer, Alfred Rouse, was soon caught and later hanged at Bedford Prison. Known as a rogue, he confessed before his death that being in serious financial debt, he had picked the man up in London and killed him in order to fake his own death. He said he chose the man as he looked as though 'he would not be missed', leading to speculation at the time that the man may have been homeless. Even Alfred Rouse may not have known his victim's name.

Alfred Rouse confessed to the murder

Recently a woman who thought that she could be the murdered man's great-great niece contacted Northamptonshire Police.

They spoke to scientists at the University of Leicester, who then looked back through the archives from the original police investigation. They found two samples of tissue from the victim's lungs and pancreas, which enabled them to extract his DNA. For the woman who had come forward it proved not to be a match, but since then more than ten other people have been in contact to claim that he could be a relative. The scientists are now working to establish whether any of them are indeed correct.

In the village of Hardingstone people still grow up knowing of murderer Alfred Rouse.Villagers hope that, if a relative is eventually found, they will one day be able to mark a name on the grave of his unknown victim.