Campaign to ID 8 Thames Valley Bodies

11 December 2012, 14:32 | Updated: 11 December 2012, 14:58

Police have launched a campaign to finally identify eight people who died in unexplained circumstances, some dating back to the 1970s.

The previously unidentified bodies were found in various circumstances, all unexplained, and police were never able to work out who they were.

They were found across the area covered by Thames Valley Police, including Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

Today, the force launched Operation Nightingale, a drive to finally identify the eight people and resolve the cases.

Detective Sergeant Craig Kirby, from the force's major crime review team, said Thames Valley Police is working with the national Missing Persons Bureau, as well as Crimestoppers, to solve the cases.

The cases date back as far as 1970, when the body of a man, thought to be between 50 and 60, was found near a railway line in Slough.

They also include the body of a man between 25 and 35 found floating in the Jubilee River in Dorney, Berkshire, in May 2004.

The most recent was from 2007 when the body of a man in his late 20s was found in a shed on a country estate in Hedgerley, Bucks. It is thought his body had been there for between seven months and two years.

None of the deaths were treated as suspicious but police stressed they always kept an open mind.

Mr Kirby said earlier this year the force had been able to give closure to family members after a body found in the River Great Ouse at Olney, Buckinghamshire, in 1986 was finally identified as that of Michael Walsh, who had gone missing the previous year, after it was exhumed and DNA tests carried out.

Mr Kirby said Mr Walsh's family had finally been able to bury him properly and he hoped Operation Nightingale would give the same answers to other families.

"The Thames Valley Police are committed to resolving these cases as each one is a person who is likely to have a family, possibly a partner, a child, who has never known what happened to their loved one,'' he told a press conference in Oxford today.

"The timing of this operation is relevant as we're coming up to Christmas.''

See the drawings at Thames Valley Police's Facebook page.