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Wed, 29 May 2024 Press Release

Can you help solve the mystery of St Helier Woman?

Appeal to people in Ghana to help trace woman who died in 2006
By Locate International
Can you help solve the mystery of St Helier Woman?
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[May 2024] Volunteer cold-case investigators are reaching out to people in Ghana to try and identify a woman who died in London, England, 18 years ago today.

On 29 May 2006, a woman was found sitting on a wall outside St Helier hospital in Sutton, South London, complaining of severe pain in her abdomen.

On examination, she was discovered to be carrying packages of drugs in her stomach, and was unable to give clear information to staff at the hospital before sadly later dying.

To this day, she has not been identified, but she is believed to have had links to Ghana.

Now, volunteer investigators with the British charity Locate International, which looks into cold cases of missing and unidentified people, are releasing a new living depiction image of the woman, and encouraging members of the public to take part in a forum to help solve the case.

We are hopeful that someone in Ghana will either recognise her, or be able to provide valuable clues.

Without a name, the woman is known simply as St Helier Woman, but we are determined to reunite her with her real identity.

She told staff at the hospital that she had recently arrived from Accra and she is believed to have arrived at London’s Heathrow airport in the immediate days before 29 May 2006.

She also told staff her name was Mary Kofi (exact spelling unknown) and that her date of birth was 27 April 1957, which would have made her 67 today. However, it is unclear if any of this information is accurate: the drugs suggest she may have been the victim of human trafficking, and as such may have been unwilling to give her real identity to authorities.

We know:

  • She was middle-aged, most likely in her late forties, and about 5’9” (177 cm) with a heavy build
  • She was of Afro-Caribbean descent
  • She had red tips to her hair
  • She had a scarf and a handkerchief with an ‘Argent Swallow’ logo with bird imagery

We’re confident that after 18 years, her identity can be found thanks to just one person with one piece of information. Ask yourself, and people you know, these questions:

  1. Do you have any female relatives who were in their late forties in 2006, with ties to Ghana or other African countries, who are no longer in contact with you?
  2. Does the unique dress that St. Helier Woman was wearing remind you of clothing styles worn by someone you knew and lost touch with?
  3. Did you know of, or had heard about, this woman but couldn’t come forward at the time? Perhaps your allegiances have changed – now is the time to speak up.
  4. Were you in or near St. Helier Hospital in Sutton, South London, on May 29, 2006? Did you notice anything unusual or suspicious?

Phil Brewer is the Specialist Advisor on Modern Slavery to the Human Trafficking Foundation, and was the lead responsible officer for both modern slavery and criminal exploitation for the Metropolitan Police in London.

“In scenarios like this, we often don’t understand the situation they would have found themselves in prior to their death,” he said.

“It is quite possible that St Helier Woman found herself coerced or had been forced into carrying drugs and into bringing them into the UK. That could be for a range of reasons: it could be threats against her or her family, or some financial issue.

“Similarly, her family might not have reported her missing to the authorities for a good reason – for their own safety.”

Dave Grimstead, Locate International’s CEO and co-founder, said: “If any of these details sound familiar, or you think you might have known St Helier Woman, then please come forward – if you have any concerns for your safety, you can do so anonymously if you wish.”

If you have any information, please contact Locate International by emailing [email protected], by calling 0300 102 1011 (in the UK) or by visiting https://locate.international/appeals/st-helier-woman

In April, the case of St Helier Woman featured on the new podcast Jigsaw, produced in collaboration between Locate International and What’s The Story Sounds. Listen to the episode here on Apple podcasts, Spotify or Amazon Music.

Members of the public can participate in Locate International’s forum to discuss St Helier Woman – sign up here.

About Locate International
Locate International is a Registered UK Charity No.1197991 and is built of specialist teams from different disciplines and volunteers from local communities. Over the last four years, we have built a solid foundation through creating collaborative opportunities with universities, experts with academic research, & exploration into cold cases with direct access to specialists around the world. Our mission is to locate the missing & name the unidentified, and our vision is that every missing & unidentified person receives the highest quality investigation.

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