A Thai family has come forward to say that a woman believed to have been murdered and dumped in a Yorkshire Dales stream 15 years ago could be their missing relative.
UK cold case detectives investigating the mysterious death of the unknown woman, who was found in 2004 near Pen-y-Ghent, have confirmed they have received a possible name and enquiries are ongoing.
A couple from north-east Thailand say their daughter, Lamduan Seekanya, married an Englishman in the 1990s and has not been seen since 2004. They have provided DNA samples to the British police and produced photographs of the missing woman.
But Lamduan’s mother Joomsiri, 72, told Thai publication The Nation she hopes the woman is not identified as her daughter and that she is “still alive somewhere.”
She claimed that on Lamduan’s last trip home, her British husband had urged the family to sell their land.
“My son-in-law wanted us to sell up, but my husband refused,” Joomsiri said.
In a phone call about a month later, Lamduan complained to her mother that her husband was refusing to give her any money.
She said she has not heard from Lamduan since then.
The Samui Times reports Lamduan met her future husband – an English teacher – in Chiang Mai and that the pair had two children in Britain, where she worked in a restaurant, sending money to her family in Thailand on a monthly basis.
The Lady of the Hills
The woman’s half-naked body was found by walkers on the Pennine Way in North Yorkshire between Pen-y-Ghent and Horton, Ribblesdale, on 20 September, 2004.
Detectives believe she may have been killed elsewhere and transported to the stream, possibly by a 4×4 vehicle due to the difficult terrain.
A cause of death has never been established and a 2007 inquest recorded an open verdict, with a post-mortem examination indicating she had been dead between one and three weeks before her body was found.
A grave with a headstone inscribed with ‘The Lady of the Hills’ has been erected in Horton-in-Ribblesdale and a funeral was held for her in 2007 at a church a mile from where she was discovered, attended by 50 mourners.
Walker David Pickersgill told the Northern Echo he believed he may have been the last person to see the woman alive.
He said: “I was out walking with my son-in-law and she asked us the way to Pen-y-Ghent. She didn’t seem at all distressed or worried.
“She went on her way and I thought nothing more about it – then I saw her picture in the paper.”
But the fact that the woman was found wearing just Marks & Spencer jeans and socks, with a bra hanging off her left arm and no shoes makes it is unlikely she was out walking.
North Yorkshire Police said the circumstances surrounding her death have “remained suspicious”.
Last year, North Yorkshire Police said they believed she was a “Thai bride” who came to this country after marrying a local man.
Cold case review manager Adam Harland said she had been in the UK for at least two years before her death.
He said: “This term does not necessarily mean the woman comes from Thailand, but that she is a lady who has taken up a relationship with a white gentleman and has come back to live in the UK in the late 1990s or early 2000s.
“That would probably mean that her partner is older than her and quite likely has led a more solitary, individual life prior to their relationship taking place.
“Whoever her partner was in the last days of her life is the person we need to locate and speak to.”
Harland added tests on the woman’s hair suggested she had settled in north Lancashire or south Cumbria. She wore a wedding ring made of Thai gold and tests showed she had been taking birth control pills.
He urged people from those areas to consider whether they can recall a woman from south east Asia who had been in a relationship with a local man.
Harland said it is likely those who knew the woman, who is believed to have been aged between 20 and 40, were told the relationship had ended and that she had returned home.
She has been described as 4ft 11in, with dark brown shoulder-length hair, weighing around 10 stone. She had brown eyes, both ears pierced and a distinctive gap between her front lower teeth, which would have been noticeable when she smiled.
North Yorkshire Police have appealed for anyone with information to call 101.