The key to solving the mystery of a man whose remains were found in a disused barn in the English countryside likely lies in France, according to detectives, who have launched a new appeal after his bones were analysed by experts.
The man’s body and belongings were found in a disused outbuilding in Micheldever, Hampshire, on 1 December 2017.
It’s believed he died from natural causes but, so far, Hampshire Constabulary have been unable to identify the individual.
Officers have now launched a joint effort with Locate International, a charity which looks into cold cases of missing people and unidentified remains, to investigate the man’s possible connections to France.
Recent analysis of the man’s teeth and bone samples – conducted at the University of Reading – suggests the man likely grew up in either the south of France, western Switzerland or Corsica.
The analysis also revealed pollutants indicating that the man spent his early life in a sizeable town or city and had a fish-rich diet.
A reconstructed image of what the man may have looked like has also been released.
What police learned from witnesses
After a public appeal in 2019, witnesses shared with officers that they met a man in the summer of 2012, who asked to camp overnight in their garden in Itchen Stoke, seven miles from where his body was found.
The witnesses described the man as having a French accent and said he was white with brown hair, aged between 35 to 50, and five foot eight inches tall.
He told them he was travelling through England to go to Ireland or Canada and said he previously served in the French military, according to the witness account given to officers.
It is also possible that he was deaf or hard of hearing in one ear, police say.
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‘Likely’ remains ‘lay undiscovered for five years’
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary’s Doug Utting, from the serious case review team, said in a statement: “It seems very likely that this man died very shortly after interacting with the witnesses we have now identified and lay undiscovered for five years.
“Our enquiries have led us to believe that he grew up in southern or southeastern France, Corsica or western Switzerland.
“Through this new appeal, I hope we can hear from people in those areas that recognise the man described as someone they may know and who they have not seen or heard from since 2012.”
Dave Grimstead, Locate International’s chief executive, also said: “The key to us solving this mystery seems to lie in France.
“He died alone, but we want to make sure he is not forgotten after his death.
“Even just one small piece of information you have can help us identify him.”
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