French police find ancient murder victim

French police who spent two years trying to identify a woman who was murdered by a blow to the head were relieved to discover the reason their efforts were failing: the woman died half a millennium ago.

The skeleton of a woman in her 30s was found during an exceptionally low tide in December 2003 near the seaside Brittany town of Plouezoc’h. A long gash in the skull convinced investigators she was killed with a hatchet or other sharp implement.

Police ploughed through missing-persons’ files to no avail. A theory that the woman was the wife of a Normandy doctor who disappeared with his family in a famous 1999 case was dismissed after DNA tests.

Eventually, radiocarbon dating established that the death had occurred between 1401 and 1453.

“We are satisfied because at least we know the date now.
We reckon it was pirates,” said Francois Gerthosser, of the Plourin-les-Morlaix police.—AFP

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