01.04.12 8:56 PM ET
Missing Women Give Clues to Dead Body Found on Queen’s Estate
Detectives are looking into the cases of two missing Eastern European women, after a body was discovered on the Queen’s Sandringham estate on New Year’s Day.
Norfolk police believe the remains could be those of one of two women from nearby villages: either Latvian-born Alisa Dmitrijeva, 17, or Vitalija Baliutaviciene, 29, originally from Lithuania, both of whom vanished from the area last August.
They confirmed that the body, stumbled on by a dog walker, is a white woman approximately 15 to 23 years old, who could have been lying on the Sandringham estate for up to four months.
Dmitrijeva, a young brunette, was last seen at midnight on Aug. 31. She was reported missing by a worried family member on Sept. 6.
Police offered a £5,000 reward for information on her whereabouts and said they were interested in tracing the movements of a green Lexus GS300 in connection with her disappearance.
Rimas Venclovas, 46, who was extradited from Lithuania, has been charged with the kidnapping and murder of Baliutaviciene; however, no body has been recovered in the case. The blonde was last seen leaving her home at 5 a.m. on Aug. 12.
Detective Chief Inspector Jes Fry, leading the inquiry, said that samples taken from the body were expected to result in a DNA profile of the victim this evening. “Part of the postmortem will try to establish the identification through fingerprints or DNA, which may help us identify who the victim is more quickly,” he said.
Speaking at the scene, he underscored that the missing-persons reports had become the main line of inquiry.
“How far back this investigation goes depends on what the experts say," he said at a press conference. "We are looking at missing-persons reports nationwide as well as cases we have been working on more locally for potential links.”
He would not reveal how the woman was killed or how she was clothed when she was discovered in a 30-foot-wide wooded thicket one mile from the entrance to Sandringham House.
He added that the body was “not underground” in the grove, and that it was not yet clear whether the woman had been killed at the scene or taken there after the murder.
The grim scene is 200 yards along a farm track just half a mile from the Sandringham Stud, where the Queen breeds racehorses. It emerged yesterday that the body was lying undiscovered yards from a sugar-beet field where the royals had enjoyed their annual Boxing Day Shoot.
As forensic officers continued to comb the grounds, the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh remained in residence at Sandringham House, along with the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their two children. The Queen is understood to have been briefed on the investigation by police. According to The Sun newspaper, she has asked to be kept updated.
In recent years, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire have been the focus of a number of police investigations into gang masters who prey on desperate and vulnerable immigrants, many from Eastern Europe.
These immigrants are often employed illegally (but also legally) for a pittance, working in factories or as fruit pickers. Dawn raids on the gangs carried out by police have uncovered workers living in conditions that aren’t much better than slave camps.
It is a world away from the grandeur of Royal Sandringham. The house, built in 1771 on 20,000 acres of rolling grounds, lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It was bought by Queen Victoria in 1862 as a retreat for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, and has been home to four monarchs since. More than 200 staff are employed on the estate, including gardeners, foresters, farmers, and gamekeepers. The royal family also profit from produce off the land.