Saturday 27 May 2017

Team hopes to find more of North's 'Disappeared'

Grainne Cunningham

THE forensic expert heading up the search for the 'Disappeared' said he remains hopeful that more bodies of those killed during the Troubles will be located and returned to their families.

Geoff Knupfer, a former detective chief superintendent -- who helped to find some of the Moors Murders victims -- is a key adviser to the Inde- pendent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains.

Mr Knupfer, who worked with Greater Manchester Police for 30 years, yesterday said it could be several weeks before the human bones found in Monaghan last week can be DNA-tested to ascertain whether they are the remains of Charlie Armstrong.

The remains are to be taken to the State Pathologist's office in Dublin.

Samples will be sent to a laboratory in England, where a special DNA database contains the genetic codes of all the families of the disappeared.

The 57-year-old father of five went missing on his way to Mass in Crossmaglen in August 1981. No reason was ever given for his murder.

Mr Knupfer confirmed that the search of the site near Aughrim More, Monaghan, where remains, believed to be those of Mr Armstrong, were located, was undertaken in response to information from a source.

He said that he and his team, which includes archaeologists, anthropologists, geo-physicists and cadaver dogs, are currently searching a number of locations in Ireland.

While investigators are obviously working on a "residue of the more difficult cases", Mr Knupfer said "we would like to think this is not the end of recoveries as far as the commission is concerned".

Mr Knupfer said the team initially feared they would be given false leads and misleading information.

"Over the years, we have received very few if any hoax calls or contacts sending us on wild goose chases," he told RTE.

However, he stressed that the locations where the bodies tended to be buried had been selected because they were peat bogs in featureless terrains where the remains were unlikely to be found.

He said the commission's research team welcomed all information, even from anonymous sources and cross-reference all available material in an effort to pinpoint a likely burial site.

Of the 16 missing people officially targeted by the commission, six have been identified.

Irish Independent

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