Winnipeg police may have taken a major step forward in solving the mysterious case of "Miss X."
At least seven new leads have emerged after a feature story about the unidentified woman appeared in the Free Press earlier this month. Investigators in the missing persons unit are now going through the tips and hope a breakthrough is just around the corner.
"Though we have yet to have success at identifying this female, these leads are so greatly appreciated. Being able to assist a family of a missing loved one may help give them some closure," Det.-Sgt. Shaunna Neufeld said.
The investigation began last June 15 when a badly decomposed body was spotted by a resident who lives just south of the north Perimeter Highway bridge. The case was initially treated as suspicious because there was plastic wrapped around the remains. Police later determined it was likely debris that had become entangled and ruled out foul play.
Very little is known about the victim despite several pleas for public help. Her name, age, place of birth and whether she has any living relatives or friends are a mystery.
Gordon Holens, a sub-inspector and statistician with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, has spent the past 10 months working with police and trying to find anything he can about the woman he refers to simply as "Miss X."
"You just don't see this very often," Holens told the Free Press. In fact, he can recall only one other case during his 13-year career where a person died in complete anonymity and remains that way to this day.
Police took the unusual step last September of issuing a forensic sketch of the woman, along with photos of jewelry she was wearing when pulled from the water. The drawing of the woman is a facial reconstruction, not an exact likeness. She is believed to have been between 35 and 50 years old and about 5-5, with a slim build. She may have worn dentures.
It was hoped the public plea for assistance would lead to a break in the case, but investigators were met with silence.
Neufeld said this week there was much more response after the recent story in the Free Press, including from several people who contacted investigators believing they know the woman's identity.
"We are following up on each lead," Neufeld said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the police missing persons unit at 204-986-6250 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).