FORENSIC experts and specialist personnel from Strathclyde Police this morning began the exhumation of a family plot in a North Lanarkshire cemetery in the hope of bringing to an end a five decade-long mystery by finding the body of missing schoolgirl Moira Anderson.
• Forensic experts and police begin exhumation of family plot in attempt to find body of Moira Anderson
• Moira, 11, disappeared in 1957 and is widely believed to have been murdered by a convicted child rapist
Moira was 11 when she disappeared in 1957 after going on an errand for her grandmother to the Co-op shop near her home in Coatbridge. Her body was never found, and Scotland’s Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, ordered cold case detectives to reopen the case as a murder investigation last year.
The family of the youngster, who have long suspected she was murdered by a convicted child rapist, last month successfully raised a legal action before Sheriff Frank Pieri at Airdrie Sheriff Court to exhume eight bodies from a lair where they believe she may have been secretly buried.
This morning, as first light began to break over Old Monkland Cemetery in the town, work got underway. The resting place, which lies on the crest of a hill parallel to a busy stretch of the A8, became a hive of activity as around a dozen officers and forensic specialists worked under a cluster of tarpaulins and screens erected in the graveyard so as to provide as much privacy as possible during the sensitive exhumation process.
With extensive groundwater, poor weather conditions, and potentially unreliable burial records, the exhumation is far from a straightforward process, and the operation is unlikely to be completed until the end of the week, with any DNA analysis which follows likely to take weeks, if not months, further.
Nonetheless, police expressed hope that the search would at last bring closure to one of Scotland’s most notorious missing person cases, with the officer leading the investigation speaking of the force’s sense of duty towards the Anderson family.
“We have to remember there’s a real human story behind this, and we have a responsibility not only to Moira, but to her family as well,” said Chief Inspector Kenny Macleod, area commander for Coatbridge and Airdrie with Strathclyde Police. “It’s important that her family get closure.”