POLICE hope one of North Yorkshire's most notorious mystery deaths could finally be solved, after they managed to construct a full DNA profile by exhuming the 30-year-old remains.

The remains of a woman's body, found near Sutton Bank in 1981, were exhumed from Malton Cemetery in January so DNA material could be extracted and examined in a bid to finally identify her.

Detective Superintendent Lewis Raw, who is leading the cold case review, today said the forensic analysis had produced a full composite DNA profile.

Police now say she was 5ft 2ins tall, and more than 35 years old. All her upper teeth were missing, she had an upper dental plate fitted and she had just six lower teeth.

She had short dark hair and the post mortem showed she had given birth to two or three children.

She also had a displaced septum between her nostrils, an old fracture to her ankle, and her toenails were painted pink – the varnish coming from the Max Factor Maxi range.

She also had an abnormality to her neck vertebrae which would have caused back-ache.

Det Supt Raw said: “We are very pleased with the outcome of the tests.

"Due to the length of time the body had been buried at the cemetery in Malton, there was a possibility that a full profile might not be obtained. Obtaining a full composite profile enhances the lines of investigation we can undertake.

“Producing the profile was a very complex procedure and I would like to express our thanks to the Forensic Science Service for their assistance with the investigation."

He said police would now begin the process of seeking to identify the woman by comparing her DNA profile with existing records, the national missing people database, the DNA database, and by working with the families or friends of missing people who had come forward following publicity about the case.

But he said: "Before any samples are taken from the people who have come forward, research will be conducted around physical similarities between the families and the deceased, including dental records and other physical characteristics."

The Press revealed last August, on the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the body in a nettle bush, that police were re-opening the inquiry, and that they were appealing once again for anyone who knew about the case to come forward.

Since then, 15 families have contacted police to say they believe the woman may be a relative of theirs.

The remains were found on August 28, 1981, after an anonymous caller phoned Ripon Police Station.

The body was found in undergrowth on an unclassified road between Sutton Bank and Scawton and Rievaulx and is thought to have lain undisturbed for up to two years. Police believe she was murdered.

Det Supt Raw said: "The mystery as to who the woman is continues, but the investigation is progressing and if we can identify her, we can then begin the process of establishing how she met her death.

“We have had tremendous support from our professional partners and members of the public, in particular the residents of Malton who supported us through the very sensitive operation to exhume the body.”

He said that, at the time, the caller who tipped off police had said he could not reveal his identity due to "national security" reasons, but Det Supt Raw said: "Perhaps he is now in a position to come forward and talk to the police."

He asked anyone with information to phone police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.