Human remains found inside a septic tank in a Worcestershire village are those of an adult woman, a postmortem examination has found.
West Mercia police launched an investigation into the unexplained death after the discovery in Kempsey on 12 July.
Officers had previously ruled out a link to a Metropolitan police search eight miles away in Pershore for the murdered estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, who went missing in 1986. That search finished this week.
It is understood the remains were discovered after the tank was drained during routine maintenance.
Detectives said their investigation was looking at “multiple lines of inquiry”, including a possible link to the 1982 disappearance of a Kempsey woman, named locally as farmer’s wife Brenda Venables.
In May 1982, the Worcester Evening News ran a story on Venables, who was 48, going missing from her home two days earlier.
Her husband told the paper: “I just woke up to find that she had gone. She has never done anything like this before and I haven’t the faintest idea what has happened to her.”
He said his wife had been suffering from depression, triggered by a recent bout of flu, adding he had been “unable to sleep a wink since she left and can only hope and pray that she is safe”.
The article described police using a helicopter to search the banks of the nearby River Severn.
One villager, who declined to be named, said: “I remember well at the time the police came along and they were looking through all the barns, and going through the hay. They were looking for this woman about 48 hours after she disappeared.
“That went on for a while, and they had a helicopter up looking, which at the time was a bit of a novelty. Of course, they didn’t find anything.”
Police have not confirmed the address where the remains were found. However, locals said officers were seen looking at a septic tank in the grounds of Venables’ home.
DCI Carl Moore said: “We can confirm that we have now received the postmortem report in relation to the human remains found in Kempsey, Worcestershire, on Friday 12 July. The results enable us to confirm that the bones discovered are that of an adult female.
“The bones will now be forensically tested to try to obtain DNA for identification purposes.”
He added: “We are aware this is concerning for the community of Kempsey, the wider Worcestershire area and for those with missing family or friends. There is a lot of speculation surrounding the remains.
“These types of discoveries are rare and I would like to reassure people that we are doing our utmost to identify the remains – so that a family can have closure and lay their loved one to rest.”
He added: “Unfortunately, this can be a lengthy process but we are committed to identifying who this is and will update the community in due course.”