Digging has started at a farm where police believe the remains of a woman kidnapped and held to ransom 53 years ago could be buried.
Murder detectives have been investigating the site in Hertfordshire, where one of Muriel McKay’s abductors has confessed to burying her body.
Since February, officers have been carrying out visits to the farm near Royston, and now work has begun in an effort to find answers.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell said: “We are very grateful to the landowners for allowing us to carry out this work and have been keeping Muriel’s family fully informed.
“While two men were previously convicted of murder, the family have lived for more than 50 years without knowing where Muriel’s remains lie.
“At this stage we don’t know how long the dig will take or what we will find but it would be an enormous relief and sense of closure for everyone if Muriel’s remains were discovered.”
Read more: Muriel McKay – the woman who vanished
Police will initially focus on clearing various areas and then use ground penetrating radar to identify any anomalies beneath the earth.
Ms McKay was kidnapped for ransom from her London home in 1969 by brothers Arthur and Nizamodeen Hosein.
They had mistaken her for the wife of Rupert Murdoch and demanded a £1m ransom for her return.
After a bungled police operation, the brothers were arrested and convicted of Muriel’s murder, but her body was never found, and her captors would not reveal what had happened to her.
However, fresh hopes arose last year when the surviving brother Nizamodeen finally told the family’s lawyer that Muriel had died of a heart attack and that he had buried her close to the farmhouse.