The Body on Seaham Beach: podcast seeks answers to case

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Testimony, the true crime podcast series from Laudable, explores a case that has baffled investigators for 16 years in a new two-part special

Testimony: The Body on Seaham Beach is a new two-part podcast that launches exactly 16 years to the day after the discovery of human remains on the Featherbed Rocks in north-east England.

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On May 13, 2006, a man strolling along the beach in Seaham, six miles south of Sunderland, made the shocking discovery of human remains.

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In the podcast, Fiona Thompson, who was then covering the story as a reporter for our sister title The Sunderland Echo, guides listeners through the actions of police and others over the following weeks, months and years in an exhaustive attempt to identify what remains.

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Testimony: The Body on Seaham Beach includes interviews with key individuals and authorities involved in the case.

Listen to episode one now:

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You can also listen to or subscribe to Testimony on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcast platforms.

“I still believe this case can be solved”

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Fiona Thompson guides the audience through what happened: “This case has been with me for 16 years. I had never seen anything like it before or after.

“This body washed ashore at Featherbed Rocks and no one knew who it was. Durham Constabulary went straight to work and I stayed close to the investigation as they introduced amazing, cutting-edge science and technology to try to identify this unknown person.

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“I got to know some of those involved in the case quite well, such as Cliff Down, the detective sergeant, and Neville Dixon, the coroner’s officer, and this case has always stuck in the back of our minds. In creating the podcast, we wanted to examine everything that happened and ask if something was overlooked or if more could have been done.

“I still believe this case can be solved. Someone out there knows who this is. The podcast contains everything we know about this man and I hope something clicks with a listener and we can finally tell who this person is and bring them back to their family.”

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Testimony: The Body on Seaham Beach highlights the ongoing search for answers and asks if anyone out there might hold the key to solving this case.

The Featherbed Rocks where the remains were discovered in 2006

“No stone was left unturned”

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Retired Detective Sergeant Cliff Down was the lead cop on the case and shares his memories of the only case he ever worked on without a conclusion.

“It was the first time I went to a body recovered on the beach. There were many requests that I had never made before and it was a big learning curve for me.

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“As with most investigations, we started with the basics, we needed to rule out third-party negligence and see if this body matched missing persons reports from our and neighboring theaters of operations. But after that, we had to start thinking outside the box, we had to use whatever forensic evidence we had to try to identify that person.

“We have ventured into areas of cutting-edge scientific investigation previously untapped by the force, such as: B. the isotope analysis. We even committed to doing a full facial reconstruction as well, hoping someone would recognize that person. No stone was left unturned but this case frustrates me to this day and I hope that by contributing to the podcast we can reach someone who has information that can help answer some of the unanswered questions we have.”

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How people can just disappear

In addition to the specifics of this case, the podcast highlights how missing persons cases and unidentified remains are handled by authorities and investigators.

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On the podcast, Louise Newell, Operations Manager of the UK Missing Persons Unit at the National Crime Agency, discusses the challenges of identifying some human remains from their DNA database: “Some families may not report someone missing for many, many years behavior is completely normal. So cases could sit there for a long time before we’re able to match them.

“There are quite a lot of people out there who, for whatever reason, have some kind of family breakdown or a breakup between them and their family and don’t have close relationships with other people.

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“If they die, a) unfortunately we will not be able to identify them, and b) family or previous friends or partners will not know they are missing as this lack of communication is standard.”

Other contributors include Professor Caroline Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University, who worked with Cliff and his team to perform the facial reconstruction. dr Wilkinson is famous for having a similar reconstruction of King Richard III. After the discovery of his remains in a Leicester car park in 2012.

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Coroner’s Officer Neville Dixon is another knowledgeable guest who explains why this particular case was so unusual.

Niall Benson of the Durham Heritage Coast and DNA expert Dr. Steven Darby from the University of Sunderland are also appearing on the series to address some of the unanswered questions surrounding the case in hopes of finally finding answers somewhere for a grieving family.

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Testimony is a commendable production for the Sunderland Echo and Mazic News. Episode one is available on all podcast platforms from Friday, May 13th. Episode two will be available next Friday (May 20th). It is presented, produced and edited by Kelly Crichton.

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