Scottish scientists reconstruct face of murder victim who died 16 years ago

State of the art technology has been used by Scottish scientists to create the face of a murder victim whose remains were unearthed in 2016.

Facial reconstruction which has been created to try and identify a man whose remains were found in Forest Gate, London, in April 2016. Picture: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
Facial reconstruction which has been created to try and identify a man whose remains were found in Forest Gate, London, in April 2016. Picture: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

Now detectives are appealing for help in identifying the mystery man found buried in a sleeping bag in Forest Gate, east London, after being battered to death up to 16 years ago.

Police were called to reports of skeletal remains found in a blue sleeping bag at a disused factory in Upton Lane, Forest Gate, just before 4pm on Friday April 29, 2016.

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Part of a black bin liner had been placed over the head and body, while the skull had a visible crack along the left side, towards the back.

Working with archaeologists to excavate the scene, officers removed more than 100 industrial rubble sacks containing objects, soil and debris which were sieved by specialist search officers and examined by a forensic anthropologist.

During the excavation, almost all of the skeletal remains were recovered.

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A post mortem and anthropological examination concluded that there were a number of "blunt force trauma wounds" to the skull.

A DNA sample was obtained from the remains, but no match was made on the National DNA database and the victim remains unidentified.

Natural History Museum scientists also examined some of the remains to establish the origin, but suitable DNA could not be extracted.

Detective Inspector Darren Jones, who is leading the inquiry, said: "I would urge people reading this appeal, especially those living in the area where this man's remains were found, to look closely at the reconstruction and think about whether you may have seen him.

"Does he look familiar to you?"

He said that examination of the skeletal remains concluded that the dead man was between 5ft 4ins and 5ft 8ins tall, and it is believed he could have been of eastern, southern or central Asian, Indian subcontinent, European, North African or Middle Eastern descent.

DI Jones added: "Inside the blue sleeping bag there was a packet of chewing tobacco which is only officially sold in the Indian subcontinent.

"An item of clothing found on the remains also links to the same area.

"Examinations continued over the following months at the scene.

"During this time, a room on the first floor of the four-story building was identified as being the suspected site of the attack.

"Blood matching the DNA of the victim was found in the corner of the room."

Police utilised several specialist techniques which are not often used in murder inquiries.

Professor Gordon Cook, of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, performed radio carbon analysis of bones, teeth and hair.

He identified that the results from the lateral incisor and the second molar indicate that the victim was born between 1971 and 1974 and died between 2003 and 2006.

That put the victim's age at death as somewhere between 29 and 35.

That finding with the anthropologist's report which stated that the likely age was between 30 and 45.

Facial reconstruction of the skull was created by Dundee University.

There have been no arrests during the investigation.

Police are appealing for anyone who thinks they may recognise the man or may have any information on his death to come forward.