Bodies Discovered But Not Identified, Claimed, Or Accounted For

Quake42

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#1
A sad, but fascinating, story here:

Mystery of train death children

The train crashed under the road bridge at Charfield station in 1928
Eighty years to the day after a train crash killed 15 people and injured a further 23, the bodies of two children remained unidentified.

A Leeds to Bristol night mail train crashed under the road bridge at Charfield station, South Gloucestershire on 13 October, 1928.

Rail archives show the train went through a red signal in thick fog.

Gas cylinders used to light the carriages ignited on impact, the fire hindering the identification of bodies.

Historian Ian Thomas, who has researched the crash, said the identities of the two small burnt bodies would probably always remain a puzzle.

Woman in black

A number of theories developed locally over the years.

There were suggestions at one time they were the bodies were those of two small men, possibly jockeys.

More bizarrely others believed they were the charred remains of a ventriloquist's dummies.

Mr Thomas said for many years an unknown woman visited the graves where the bodies were buried locally. But she has not been seen for several decades.

"Up until the late 1950s, early 1960s, a mysterious woman dressed in black, big long flowing black robe used to visit the graveyard on the anniversary on 13 October each year and lay flowers on the grave," said Mr Thomas.

"That continued unabated until the media intervened and tried to approach her one day and she was never seen again after that."

A memorial to all the victims stands in St James' churchyard.

Each anniversary of the crash, villagers lay floral tributes there.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/glou ... 667017.stm
 

OldTimeRadio

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#2
It's been suggested in other cases of this kind, where children's bodies remain unclaimed after horrific accidents, that the actual family may find the tragedy much easier to bear if the rest of the world mourns along with them.

Perhaps related - when an especially-beloved Cincinnati sports star died two years ago the family itself said that the community-wide mourning made their own loss easy to bear. "We just floated along on the love," they said.
 

escargot

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#3
This story reminds me of 'Little Miss Nobody', discussed here on Snopes.

After a circus fire in 1944, among the many fatalities was a girl of about 6 who the story goes, was never identified.
 

Cochise

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#4
I'm not sure this is the right place for this topic, but we don't appear to have a thread on unclaimed dead - sort of the opposite of those who disappear without trace. If I've missed it or this is not the proper place then please move / merge this.

There is the Talman Shud case which has been discussed, but more ordinary cases exist as well, such as the two children's bodies found after the Charfield railway accident (1928), and the man murdered by Alfred Rouse.

In the case of the Charfield accident it seems remarkable that two children would be travelling on an express train with no apparent connection to anyone on the train and no-one waiting for them to arrive at the other end
.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/glou ... 667017.stm

In the Rouse case, the killer seems to have assumed the man would be untraceable - how did he know? Even tramps sometimes have relatives.
 

poozler

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#5
I've always wondered about unclaimed bodies, especially those of children. Have you checked out the following?

Little Miss 1565 (a little girl whose body, recovered after a big circus fire in the US)

The Boy in the Box (a small boy, obviously battered, whose corpse was found in a large cardboard box -- again in the USA)

It's so sad to think that noone missed them. The 'Boy in the Box' was mostly likely killed and dumped by his killer, but you'd think another relative would recognize and claim him. The circus girl is just weird. Anyone who cares enough about a child to take her to the circus would be sure to miss her and want to find her.
 

escargot

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#7
The 'mystery' of the Charfield accident:

where two unidentified children were apparently buried unclaimed, is a myth.
The story arose because the local carpenter contracted by the undertakers to make the coffins also built two smaller boxes for unidentifiable bits of bodies left over from the crash. They were naturally mistaken for children's coffins.

Here's a BBC radio programme about it, in the very entertaining Punt PI series -

The Woman in Black

For 25 years following the 1928 Charfield rail crash in Gloucestershire, a woman in black laid flowers at the memorial to the accident. Arriving in a chauffeur driven car, she never revealed her identity but locals have assumed she was in some way related to two young unknown victims of the accident.

The means of this rich woman's arrival has led to feverish speculation - most notably that the was a member of royalty and the children were illegitimate offspring. Add to that questions over the cause of the crash and you have a field day for conspiracy theorists.

Punt sets to work sorting fact from fiction, calling in the experts and cross-examining locals. He gets to grips to with the cause of the crash and gets tantalisingly close to the the possible identity of the woman in black and the two unknown victims.
 
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escargot

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#8
The Punt PI series is worth looking into. In a previous series he investigated a train crash from many years back. A belief persisted that an unknown child was buried among the many victims; the strange idea that a child's body could go unclaimed made for a very interesting programme.
I won't spoil the ending but after following several red herrings, Punt seemed to pin down the rather gruesome truth. :shock:
 

rynner2

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#9
Many people are found, but not identified...
England's unclaimed dead and the people trying to give them a name
By Laurence Cawley BBC News

Without a name, they are referred to by the clothes they died in or some other distinguishing feature. The lady in the Afghan coat and a woman who may have been a sex worker known as The Duchess are just two of the hundreds of unidentified body cases reported to the National Crime Agency (NCA) each year. Half will be identified and returned to their loved ones. But what happens to the rest?

"I feel I know her, I really do, because I know so much about her," says Det Insp Andy Guy.
He knows what she ate (a lot of seafood), where she came from (probably Denmark), that she was right-handed and had given birth.
What he does not know is her name, or the whereabouts of her head.
The unidentified woman, whose decapitated body was found bound and covered in a dustsheet off a rural path in Cockley Cley, Norfolk 41 years ago, is one of about 1,500 cases registered with the National Crime Agency.

Some are complete bodies, some just body parts.
Sometimes the gender and a rough age of the remains can be determined, other times they cannot.
About 150 unidentified body cases are reported each year.
Most are found by dog walkers, joggers or mushroom foragers, and usually in autumn or late winter, when the foliage has died back.

The oldest case on the NCA's database is that of a man, possibly a vagrant in his 40s, whose decomposed body was found in a derelict house in east London.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the discovery.

After London, the areas with the most unidentified people cases are Sussex, with 52, Kent with 31, Essex, with 29 cases and Devon and Cornwall, with 28.
But why would Devon and Cornwall, an area with 1.65m people, have three times as many unidentified cases as somewhere such as West Yorkshire, with its population of 2.2m?
The answer, says Louise Vesely-Shore at the NCA, is the coastline. Bodies not only wash up on the shore, she says, but they also tend to be harder to identify because of the effects of sea water.
"We aim to reconcile 50% of the 120 to 150 cases that come in each year," says Ms Vesely-Shore.

A significant number of unidentified body cases relate either to people who have lost contact with family - and are therefore not reported missing - or foreign nationals who die on UK soil.
Roughly one in 10, says the NCA, is crime related.
Coroners decide what happens to the bodies and although most are buried, some are kept in morgues.

The body of a newborn baby was found in a water-filled pit at Weasenham St Peter in Norfolk in June 1988.
For more than a quarter of a century, nobody knew who the baby's mother was or the circumstances of his death.
But in April 2014 the body was exhumed and a DNA profile was taken.
Using that profile, Norfolk Police managed to track down the infant's mother. What emerged was a sad story of a young woman who had hidden her pregnancy from family and friends and who delivered a stillborn baby alone.

Initially arrested on suspicion of infanticide, the woman - whose identity has not been revealed - was later released without charge.
Det Insp Guy said of the case: "One can only feel for the lady involved who has had to carry this enormous burden in secret for all this time."

Ms Vesely-Shore said there were no currently agreed procedures dictating what should happen when a body is found.
She said the NCA "encourages" police and coroners to take samples, fingerprints and DNA, record dental information, and bury in a marked single grave, in case exhumation is needed in future.
In those cases in which the bodies have been cremated, she said, no DNA profile will ever be gleaned. And bodies buried in multiple graves make finding the "right" body "challenging".
Some of these cases, she warns, will now never be solved.

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-34737343

As for the high proportion of unknowns found in Devon and Cornwall, we seem to get a lot of stories in the local papers with headlines like "Have you seen this man/woman?". A large proportion of these missing persons seem to be from other parts of Britain. "He/she is thought to be in Devon/Cornwall..." Maybe they'd spent holidays here, or, if feeling suicidal, there are plenty of cliffs here to jump off, or beaches to swim away from...

But not all these missing people turn up dead. A Woman from Nottinghamshire was found in Newquay just last week.
http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/the-lone-coastguard-ii.58311/page-91#post-1560480
 

gerhard1

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#10
Colin Wilson goes into this in one of his books, and according to what he said, the ticket-taker remembered two children in school uniforms on the train. They were a boy, about 12 and a girl about 6. And although I haven't read it, Wilson refers to an account by Rupert Furneaux on the crash that refers to the children.

Here is a BBC report on the crash from 2008 that gives another perspective.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/gloucestershire/7667017.stm

Were there two children on the train? Right now, I'd classify it as unresolved. There are arguments in favor if it, but there are also arguments against it as well. My own hunch is that there were, but I could be persuaded otherwise.
 

escargot

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#11
Colin Wilson goes into this in one of his books, and according to what he said, the ticket-taker remembered two children in school uniforms on the train. They were a boy, about 12 and a girl about 6. And although I haven't read it, Wilson refers to an account by Rupert Furneaux on the crash that refers to the children.

Here is a BBC report on the crash from 2008 that gives another perspective.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/gloucestershire/7667017.stm

Were there two children on the train? Right now, I'd classify it as unresolved. There are arguments in favor if it, but there are also arguments against it as well. My own hunch is that there were, but I could be persuaded otherwise.
No, there's no mystery.
There were no unclaimed children's bodies. The two smaller boxes that were buried with the victims were full of unidentified body parts.

There had been a violent crash followed by a 12-hour gas fire so many of the passengers' remains were in a grisly condition. This was a rural area in 1929 - no refrigeration was available for 14 storing bodies while they're processed or DNA testing to match up severed limbs. Many individuals were only identified by jewellery or possessions. They had to be decently buried ASAP.

When the two extra boxes were buried alongside the coffins rumours arose about what they were for. The carpenter who made them answered anyone who asked with the truth.

In any case, if there were two unidentified children buried there then we'd see a memorial to them and there isn't one. That's because they didn't exist. The memorial to the Charfield victims mentions 'two unknown' but they obviously weren't children or it'd say so.
 
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Lodin

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#12
Going back to the subject of the thread, the UK Missing Persons Bureau has a database of unidentified bodies found in Britain. It's a fascinating, albeit fairly gruesome read, and can be found here. Many of the cases appear to relate to homeless people, or murder victims whose bodies have lain undiscovered for long periods of time, but there are a few really quite bizarre tales too, like the body of a man found by a London canal in 1972, whose head had been blown off by a nitroglycerine explosion...
 

RaM

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#13
Going back to the subject of the thread, the UK Missing Persons Bureau has a database of unidentified bodies found in Britain. It's a fascinating, albeit fairly gruesome read, and can be found here. Many of the cases appear to relate to homeless people, or murder victims whose bodies have lain undiscovered for long periods of time, but there are a few really quite bizarre tales too, like the body of a man found by a London canal in 1972, whose head had been blown off by a nitroglycerine explosion...
Maybe a safecracker that got it wrong and his body disposed of by is accomplish's.
 

CALGACUS03

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#14
The Punt PI series is worth looking into. In a previous series he investigated a train crash from many years back. A belief persisted that an unknown child was buried among the many victims; the strange idea that a child's body could go unclaimed made for a very interesting programme.
That must be the Charfield train crash of 1928. It's since been suggested that the supposed two unidentified children story came about because two small boxes were made for those body parts that couldn't be reconciled with any particular body. The Wikepedia article explains this here.

However, I've read that a number of witnesses claimed to have seen two children, wearing school uniform, on the train and being concerned about them travelling alone without an adult on such a late train. The Charfield community website here seems to corroborate that there were two children whose remains were never identified or claimed:

"The charred remains of two children, one aged about five and the other between twelve and seventeen, were found. In spite of nationwide publicity, no one ever claimed the remains, and they were buried in a common grave at Charfield."
 

escargot

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#15
That must be the Charfield train crash of 1928. It's since been suggested that the supposed two unidentified children story came about because two small boxes were made for those body parts that couldn't be reconciled with any particular body. The Wikepedia article explains this here.

However, I've read that a number of witnesses claimed to have seen two children, wearing school uniform, on the train and being concerned about them travelling alone without an adult on such a late train. The Charfield community website here seems to corroborate that there were two children whose remains were never identified or claimed:

"The charred remains of two children, one aged about five and the other between twelve and seventeen, were found. In spite of nationwide publicity, no one ever claimed the remains, and they were buried in a common grave at Charfield."
See above!
 

XBergMann

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#16
That must be the Charfield train crash of 1928. It's since been suggested that the supposed two unidentified children story came about because two small boxes were made for those body parts that couldn't be reconciled with any particular body. The Wikepedia article explains this here.

However, I've read that a number of witnesses claimed to have seen two children, wearing school uniform, on the train and being concerned about them travelling alone without an adult on such a late train. The Charfield community website here seems to corroborate that there were two children whose remains were never identified or claimed:

"The charred remains of two children, one aged about five and the other between twelve and seventeen, were found. In spite of nationwide publicity, no one ever claimed the remains, and they were buried in a common grave at Charfield."
5 is a bit young to be going to school in a school uniform
 

INT21

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#19
..She said she came to accept the contention of her son Donald, now living in Iowa, that "Little Miss 1565" was Eleanor...

This is a bit suspicious.

She believes because her son told her so. There doesn't appear to be any proof positive that it was the girl; just his say-so.

INT21
 

GNC

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#21
Did it have to be a Waffen SS uniform though?

What? Too soon?
I shouldn't have thought I'd be let into the SS when the tie I'd tied myself had a knot bigger than my head.
 

Tribble

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#22
A funeral is to be held for an unidentified woman whose body was found at a cove near Birling Gap in East Sussex. She was described as middle aged with shoulder-length reddish brown hair. An inquest in June could not ascertain who she was or how she died.
The woman’s body was recovered by Coastguard and Lifeboat teams after being seen at the shore near the fourth Seven Sister on 4 July 2017. According to the authorities, no family has come forward to identify her.


https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/read-this/funeral-held-unidentified-woman-east-sussex/
 

Bad Bungle

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#23
I watched a programme on Paupers' Graves some years back where the local Council is obliged to stump up the cost of a funeral if some-one dies without any visible assets nor traceable relatives. Two charming middle-aged women were sent in by a London Borough Council to go through the papers and belongings of the deceased to find any hidden funds or clues of a relative willing to make funeral arrangements. One of their stories still makes me shake with anger, but that's off-thread.
Anyhow, working closely with the ladies was the Coroner whose patch (Tower Hamlets?) covered part of the River Thames and he prided himself on putting a name on every body fished out. Only one case had ever defeated him - she was a women in a fairly good quality house-coat, a sixpence in the pocket, she wore a wedding ring and the autopsy showed that she'd been a mother. No identity, no-one reported her missing. After a year and a day he had to close the case as an 'unknown'
 

escargot

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#24
Two charming middle-aged women were sent in by a London Borough Council to go through the papers and belongings of the deceased to find any hidden funds or clues of a relative willing to make funeral arrangements. One of their stories still makes me shake with anger, but that's off-thread.
Cough, Punk.
 
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