Today I went for a wonder outside of Whitby to see the beautiful views that surround Sutton Bank, whilst on the trail I began speaking with my partner about an unsolved murder I remembered reading about where the body had been found around these parts. Although Sutton Bank is a few miles from Whitby, I decided it would be interesting to write a blog post about Sutton Bank’s Jane Doe
Sutton Bank, like any place, is surrounded in folklore, ghost stories about witches and
even the Devil claiming that he created Lake Gormire. But one macabre event isn’t folklore and is indeed fact, and still an ongoing investigation.
On the morning of 28th August 1981 Ripon police received a phone call from, who the duty police officer describe as, a well spoken man with just a hint of a local accent. He informed the policeman that there was a body beside the minor road to Scawton and Rievaulx Abbey. The mysterious man would give no information about himself, other than if he did reveal who he was it would be a matter of nation security, but he did give very precise directions to the body.
Police officers went to investigate and indeed did find a skeletal remains at the location, but officers were baffled as to how this man could have known they were there, they were hidden, and wouldn’t have been found unless one was looking for a body… they came to the conclusion that this male was most probably the killer or he, at least, knew how the woman died.
DCS (detective chief superintendent) Strickland Carter began a methodical search, knowing that the body had assumingly been there for a number of years he knew that there would be little evidence, but he and his team searched for as much evidence as they could.
The most information came from that of the mortician, Dr Green. He found that the body had been buried around two years, and could create a description of her. The Jane Doe had been between 35 and 40 years old at the time of death, she was 5″2, had dark brown hair and had probably given birth at least twice in her lifetime. With the information given and the remains the police were able to produce a three-dimensional wax reconstruction of her, the first of it’s kind, to help with the investigation.
There have been no answers since 1981, as to who the woman was and how she even died, though most people assume it was likely foul play. Recently in 2013 the body was exhumed to take more DNA samples but at the moment the police haven’t revealed whether the more up to date DNA tests answered any questions. And the mysterious man has never been identified or heard from again.