1. ITV Report

New appeal made in mysterious Exmoor body case

What the mystery man found on Exmoor may have looked like. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A new appeal has been made to find out the identity of a body found on Exmoor 15 years ago.

The live appeal from the BBC Crimewatch Roadshow has revealed new evidence about the man who was found on the moor.

Police say they believe establishing his identity is key to working out what happened to him.

The remains were in Moorland off Halse Lane near Winsford. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police
A clay head reconstruction of the victim. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

In March 2002 an Exmoor park ranger found bags containing human remains on moorland off a lane near the village of Winsford.

A police investigation and national appeals - including a reconstruction on Crimewatch that year - failed to help identify the man.

Police say there is evidence he suffered a violent assault before his death sometime between late 1999 and 2000.

Their analysis of satellite photographs suggests the body could have been kept elsewhere for long time before it was buried on Exmoor after May 2001.

The man's was found wrapped in binbags. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police
This type of duvet was also found at the scene. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

The remains were found wrapped in plastic bags and bedding with a number of distinctive items found nearby.

Among them were a pair of Adidas shorts and a 22-carat gold pendant carrying an inscription from the Quran.

A clay head reconstruction of the man was produced in 2002 along with other 3D reconstruction of his body which both give an idea of what he could have looked like.

This gold necklace was also found at the scene. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police
The necklace carries an inscription from the Quran. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

Police also have a full DNA profile to help solve the case. These are the key questions and evidence they are asking the public to consider:

  • Do you know of someone who went missing inexplicably in late 1999/2000?
  • Do you have any information on how this man died or how his remains came to be on Exmoor?
  • Did you see any suspicious activity on Exmoor around May 2001?
  • He was in his mid-twenties to mid-thirties

  • Pigmented skin tone and caucasian bone structure suggest heritage most likely to be North African or Asian sub-continent but could also be Middle Eastern or eastern Mediterranean

  • He may have only lived in UK for a few years prior to 1999/2000

  • He may have spent time in southern England in an area between Plymouth and Bude in the west and Poole and Bristol in the east

  • He was found with a gold pendant with an inscription from verse 255 of the Quran – called The Throne Verse/The Chair

  • Police believe the pendant was made in Pakistan and is commonly worn in the Gujarat area of India

This pair of Adidas shorts were found with the remains. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

DS Pete Frake, of the Major Crime Review Team, said:

We have carried out exhaustive enquiries over the years, tracing hundreds of reported missing people and following up leads from members of the public, but, frustratingly, the identity of this man is still unknown.

We have a full DNA profile, so cutting-edge forensic techniques have been used and we have sought input from leading scientific experts from around the UK and Europe.

Establishing the man’s identity is the key to unlocking this case. We need to let his family know what happened to him and ensure the person or people involved in his death and the gruesome deposition of his body on Exmoor are brought to justice.

One call to us could make all the difference."

– DS Pete Frank, Major Crime Review Team