Police have today confirmed that they are stepping down a 29-year missing persons enquiry after the discovery of a body fitting the description of a man known only as Wally in a disused gravel pit in Staffordshire.
Detective Inspector Simon Williams added at the hastily convened press conference, “We would like to thank the public for their help with this search, but we expect dental records to confirm that we have found the remains of the person we have been looking for for so long.
“We will then be conducting house-to-house enquiries in the surrounding area to try to establish Wally’s last movements.”
A man walking his dog is believed to have seen a distinctive red and white hat floating in the flooded quarry yesterday, prompting police divers to conduct a thorough search of the area.
A body, reportedly badly decomposed, was brought to the surface and driven away in a coroner’s van earlier today.
Unconfirmed reports have suggested that the cause of death was strangulation, with a red and white striped object, believed to be a scarf, seen being carried away from the scene by forensics officers.
The heavily publicised search saw huge numbers of members of the public volunteering their time, with police forces across the country following up leads from sightings reported as far afield as the beach, a safari park and ancient Rome.
Williams added, “Wally’s friends, Wilma and Wenda, never gave up hope that their friend would be found alive and well, but sadly that has turned out not to be the case, and they have asked for privacy at this difficult time.”
A man in a yellow and black striped jumper, identified locally as Odlaw, is helping police with their enquiries.