Police investigating the discovery of human bones by the side of the M5 on Monday have refused to confirm tonight that the remains are those of missing Bath woman Melanie Hall.
A post-mortem examination was being carried out today at the coroner’s court at Flax Bourton by a senior Home Office pathologist.
Sources close to the investigation have said the remains are those of the 25-year-old hospital worker, who disappeared in 1996 after a night out in Bath. It is believed items of jewellery found at the scene had been identified by the family of Miss Hall.
But a spokesman for Avon & Somerset police told Bristol24-7 that they could not even confirm whether the remains were those of a man or a woman.
“The post-mortem examination is still ongoing and we just don’t know,” he said. “The examination is long and laborious and we can’t say anything until tomorrow. We really don’t know and we won’t be saying anything tonight.
“If and when there is identification we will let people know. I have spoken to the officer in charge of the case an hour ago and he said the post-mortem examination is still ongoing, and at this stage we can’t even confirm a gender.”
Hospital worker Melanie Hall, 25, disappeared from Cadillacs nightclub in Bath on June 9, 1996.
Despite a £10,000 reward offered for information, and a feature on a Crimestoppers special, no trace of her was ever found.
The last sighting was of Miss Hall sitting on a stool on the edge of the dance floor at Cadillacs nightclub at 0110 GMT.
Two men were arrested in 2003 but were released without charge. The following year, officers decided she had been murdered and an inquest declared her dead in November 2004.
A workman clearing vegetation next to the slip road at junction 14 for Thornbury found the remains at about midday on Monday.
The man in charge of the investigation, Detective Inspector Richard Budd, said yesterday that he was treating the death of the unknown person as suspicious but that it was too early to say whether a crime had been committed.