Skeleton found next to pair of cowboy boots identified as man missing for 20 years

Skeletal remains found three years ago have finally been identified as a man who disappeared more than 20 years ago – as police begin a murder investigation.

The bones were found at a rural scrapyard in Essex in April 2019 next to a pair of distinctive leather cowboy boots.

Detectives used DNA samples from the remains, including using specialist assistance from a Forensic Anthropologist to establish a timescale of when the person was likely to have died.

They also reviewed historic local and national missing person reports, enquiries with financial institutions, the NHS, and the Department of Work and Pensions.

The three-year investigation has now discovered they were of William “Bill” Long who was last seen or believed to be alive between March 1999 and March 2000.

Essex Police are treating his death as murder.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hughes said: “The process to identify Bill has been measured and methodical.

“Bill’s family have been told and they now have the chance to lay him to rest.

“They have questions about what happened to him and our focus now is to get them answers.”

Bill’s sister Patricia said she hadn’t had contact with her brother since their father died 26 years ago.

She said in a statement: “After our father died in 1996, we lost contact with Bill and we’re desperate for information about what happened to him.

“He was vulnerable and an easy target for scammers and we feel so guilty that we didn’t go back to Jaywick to make sure he was ok.

“The next thing we knew was when detectives came and told us Bill’s remains had been found.

“It’s so difficult to deal with grief and guilt when we don’t know what happened.

“If you are afraid and want to remain anonymous this can be arranged. Please help us with anything you know.”

Essex Police have called on anyone with information to contact them quoting crime reference number 42/64620/19.

DI Hughes added: “We’re keeping an open mind as to what happened to Bill and how he came to be where he was found.

“I need anyone who knew Bill, saw him, spoke to him or has any information about him or his life at the time he was last seen to come forward and speak to my team.”