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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds On the 22nd of January in 2000, I took a phone call from our incident room in the office to say that two men had found a bag on Kettlebridge Road in Sheffield with what they believed inside to be a body. They were unsure whether it was an animal or a human. So myself and a colleague, we went out there, quickly established that it was a human body, and then the inquiry started from that point. Very difficult to identify who it was because it was very badly decomposed. It had clearly been at that location for some time, but also somewhere else for what ended up being a number of years. That made everything very difficult.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds There was no clothing on the body, apart from a pair of underpants. And it was wrapped in various wrappings consisting of a settee cover, some plastic sheeting, and then placed inside a very large blue sports bag. It was in some hedgerows, off a track, which was off another minor road. It was an attempt to hide the body. And the very fact that it was wrapped in what it was wrapped in, and the bag, clearly something had happened elsewhere and then the body had been put there.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds There was a cordon put around the body, quite an extensive one to make sure that nobody else, until the forensic teams arrived, passed through that scene and either took away evidence or left evidence that wasn’t connected to it. The pathologist came out. They had a look at the body and made their opinion at the time as to what they thought might have happened, which, again, because of the decomposition it was extremely difficult. So it needed a proper forensic postmortem back at the Medico-Legal Centre. Scenes of crime attended. They took several photographs.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds The body was then unwrapped at the scene and all the items that were connected to that body, including all the bags, the rope that was tied around it, the underpants that were on the body, everything was then forensically secured, collected, and bagged for further examination at a later stage. Because of the unusual circumstances to it, we had to get a load of specialists involved. We had a botanist come in because there were soil samples. We had an entomologist come in - there were flies and maggots on the body at that time. Obviously, to try and put some sort of age as to when that… number one, the male had died and number two, how long he’d been in that bag.

Skip to 2 minutes and 21 seconds We’d got an odontologist in to look at his teeth to see if we could try and identify him from that. Due to the fact, obviously, we didn’t have any idea who this male was, we called him Mr. X.

Finding Mr. X: Our story begins

Our story starts with an accidental discovery. Two men walking through an industrial estate in Sheffield find a large sports bag containing a badly decomposed body.

The men contacted South Yorkshire Police, who began to investigate the mystery.

In this video, Detective Inspector Jon Cousins and Senior Crime Scene Investigator Nicola Moyle introduce us to the case and the team of specialists that they enlisted to investigate ‘the body in the bag’.

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This video is from the free online course:

Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Finding Mr. X

The University of Sheffield