Excavation work is set to begin at a cafe in Gloucester as a result of “possible evidence” which suggests a body could be buried there.
Serial killer Fred West was a regular customer at the cafe, where missing 15-year old Mary Bastholm worked before her disappearance in 1968.
Investigators have been on site at the Clean Plate cafe after they received information which lead them to believe the body of Mary Bastholm could be buried there.
A statement from Gloucestershire Police said: “The detective leading the investigation at the Clean Plate cafe in Gloucester says that excavation work will now take place following assessments at the scene.”
It added: “Forensic archaeologists have today (Monday May 17) confirmed that there are a number of structural anomalies within the cellar that warrant further exploration.
“Following a review of the analysis Gloucestershire Constabulary has now approved excavation work to begin to establish if any human remains are present.
“The work will last several weeks but will not begin until at least Wednesday (May 19) while final assessments are made.
“Mary’s family have been updated with this information and are supportive of the activity taking place. They continue to receive support from family liaison officers.”
‘Slow and painstaking work’
A production company filming a documentary contacted Gloucestershire Police with possible evidence including an image of what appeared to be blue material buried in one area of the cellar, police said.
Mary Bastholm was wearing a blue coat when she went missing.
Detective Chief Inspector John Turner said: “The analysis from our experts and the material provided by the production company means there is enough evidence to justify excavation work beginning.
“I’ve spoken to the family and was so impressed by their quiet dignity and gratitude for all the work we’ve done and will be doing.
“They understand it is possible we won’t find human remains but they also know that we will do everything we can to establish if Mary is buried at this location.
“This will be slow and painstaking work but we have the best people on it and I can reassure our communities that all involved, from my team of investigators, our scenes of crime officers, search officers and family liaison
officers to the forensic archaeologists who will continue their work, are absolutely committed to the job ahead.
“In the meantime, I continue to ask for patience and understanding from all those affected by our ongoing presence at the cafe and thank everyone who has helped us in the last 10 days.”
Bastholm family are ‘Extremely happy’ that search is ongoing
Mary Bastholm’s family said in a statement: “Senior Investigating Officer John Turner has sat with us and explained the ongoing investigation as well as his intentions to excavate the cafe to try and find Mary.
“We are extremely happy Gloucestershire Constabulary is continuing to try and search for Mary and this gives us a chance to potentially put her at rest after all these years.
“We want to thank everyone who has wished us support through this distressing time, and we are continuing to be in close touch with the investigation team, and are being kept up to date with any new developments.
“We hope this is a chance to finally get closure for Mary and would like to continue to ask for privacy whilst the excavation is ongoing.”