Friday, 25 April 2014

Di Cullington – An extraordinary lady: an extraordinary career (Part Three)

Some memorable cases
Di was involved in hundreds of cases, all important to the families who were searching for a loved one and desperate to know what had happened to them. Inevitably, some cases stood out:

Most of us are familiar with the horrific crimes of Fred and Rosemary West. NMPH were asked to assist with the identification of the bodies discovered in the bricked up part of the Wests’ cellar. Around one third of these were identified from the input of NMPH.

In 1995 NMPH was asked to assist in identifying a man whose body was pulled from the sea in Blackpool. As a result of a post mortem photo reconstruction undertaken by Di the man was successfully identified.

On a number of occasions the police gave Di the skull from a decomposed body and Di would undertake a 3D clay facial reconstruction in her studio at home. Di recalls one case involving a French man whose body had been discovered in Scotland. The initial forensic police reports on the body put the man as smaller, and much older, than he actually was. Despite this misleading information, Di’s reconstruction led to his identification after being featured on the television programme 'Crimewatch'. The family had been searching for him for 2 years but had never linked the body found in Scotland with the missing man because of the age discrepancy.

The co-founders of NMPH encouraged Di to assist the police on cases NMPH weren’t involved with so as to raise the awareness of the police to the specialized and professional work undertaken by the charity. These included paedophile and aging cases such as the case of Annie K, whose body was exhumed in 1998 when it was suspected that she had been the victim of fraud and her will rewritten. All the photographs of Annie in the last 25 years of her life had been destroyed. Di was given a photograph of a much younger Annie and asked to “age” it. As a result of this it was shown that Annie had indeed been impersonated at the Solicitor’s office when the impersonator had given instructions to change Annie’s will in favour of the nursing home where she spent her last days! Di went on to train and qualify as an accredited Police Artist.

Di’s legacy
Di retired in 2001 but stayed on as a consultant for some time after in order to assist the department which she had instigated and developed. NMPH was relaunched as 'Missing People' in 2007 and in the years thereafter has undergone a restructuring which led to the ID department eventually being disbanded.


One of the factors in the decision to disband the department was the establishment of the UK Missing Persons Bureau in April 2008. The Missing
Persons Bureau provides support and advice to police forces throughout the UK to help resolve missing person cases and assist in the identification of bodies and remains. They maintain a central national database of missing persons and unidentified cases. In October 2012 Missing People and the Missing Persons Bureau entered into a Strategic Partnership Agreement on the shared premise that by working together they can more effectively safeguard vulnerable people, resolve missing persons’ cases and provide support to the families of the missing.

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Around 250,000 people go missing in the UK each year. The Missing Blog aims to give a voice to all those affected by this issue.

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