“The Man from Balmore”. An unidentified body from Scotland, 2011.
In September 2019 I wrote a blogpost about the UK’s Missing Persons Unit, specifically about their large database of Unidentified Bodies. At the time I wrote the article there were 564 people listed on their website, 492 males, 66 females and 6 whose gender were unknown.
The UK Missing Persons Unit website has an excellent search engine. You can search for gender, location found, clothing worn, jewellery, scars, tattoos, and all manner of unique possessions found alongside their bodies.
15 people were listed having been found in the 1960’s, 164 from the 1970’s, 158 from the 1980’s, 85 from the 1990’s, 93 from the 2000’s and 47 people from 2010-2019.
People’s understandings, philosophies, beliefs vary as to why we live in a world that results in bodies being found without a name. Do those found wish to remain nameless? In which case, should we leave them alone, at peace? Or do we have an obligation to welcome them back into the Human Race once again to be recognised with a name and a life story? Are those people whose names are found quite quickly people that wanted to be identified? And conversely, are those people that seem near on impossible to identify people that wish to remain anonymous, for now, or for as long as possible?
So what is our role? Or what is the role of someone who feels drawn to help identify the unidentified?
I have had a long interest in the subject of Missing Persons since miraculously, (in my opinion) bumping into someone who had been missing in the Far East for 9 months. This was back in the 1990’s.
Browsing the list of Unidentified People a few weeks ago I sent out a tweet:
1 hour on @UKMissingPerson unidentified bodies site. So many details, so much sadness. 23 people listed found in Scotland since 1971. #HarryPotter #LaRepublicanewspaper #Edinburghfestival #jewelry all mentioned. Came across https://amzn.to/3s82yxU by
I looked closer at one of the people mentioned on the site. This was case number 11-007783. How impersonal is that?! I noted that some of his clothing was branded, so I googled the branded name and came across a newspaper article about ‘The Man from Balmore’.
Now, the reason I feel drawn to, and in a way given permission to further explore this person’s story is because of the way his body was found. I do believe that the more a person’s soul want to remain anonymous, or hidden, or not found, the longer the body of that soul will remain at large.
In October of 2011 a keen wildlife photographer was out walking in the woods taking pictures. The dense woods were off Golf Club road in Balmore, North of Glasgow, Scotland. When the photographer returned home he downloaded his pictures onto his computer, and in one of those photographs, presumably to his horror, he saw a man hanging from a tree.
In my limited investigative mind, and following my own personal beliefs and life experience, I feel sure that this soul is ready to be named. So many people disappear amongst severely stressed situations, and often it takes a set of circumstances to come together where stress is almost zero for a soul to reveal themselves, (in my opinion).
I have exchanged e mails with Professor Sue Black who is mentioned in the above tweet. She is an eminent forensic anthropologist and back in 2013 she was asked by the Missing Persons Unit to do an in-depth examination of the body to see if they could identify him. With all their expertise they were not able to, and in Sue’s book “all that remains, A life in death”, Sue makes ‘an absolutely unashamed appeal for assistance’ in helping to find the identification of ‘The Man from Balmore’.
The gentleman was thought to have been between 20-40 years old. He was between 5ft 8 and 6ft 1 in height and was of slight frame. Sue says in her book, “What was perhaps the best chance of identifying him lay in his many injuries. A healed fracture to the left nasal bone may have been visible in life as a crooked nose. There was a healed fracture to a bone at the base of the skull. Both were likely to have resulted from the same traumatic event, probably several months before his death. Had he had an accident, or had he been the victim of a serious beating?”
He also had a fracture to the left side of his jaw which had not healed successfully. The fracture was so serious that it should been plated and screwed back together. He would in all likelihood have been in tremendous pain every time he tried to eat.
His kneecaps also showed some signs of wear. He may well have walked with a limp. His upper left central tooth was also fractured. This chip would have been visible every time he opened his mouth.
“Who is this man?” says Sue. One suggestion was that he may have been a homeless chap apparently known to have been living rough in the woods. He fitted Sue’s description and he hasn’t been seen since…
Over the weekend I sent an email to The Big Issue magazine, a charity and force for good within the homeless society in the UK. I asked if they might be willing to try and help get the Man from Balmore’s story out there.
What do you think? Do we have the right to try and name the unidentified? I feel we do, but we have to listen carefully to our intuition to see if we are the right people to do it, (my opinion again).
You can find the details of this gentleman through this link:
I think if we take it gently, don’t blast his story to all and sunder, then we might be guided to find his name.
I have the link with a picture of his possible facial structure on my desk beside me. I speak to the guy every day. I say to him stop me at anytime, but the way he allowed(?) himself to be found gives me the distinct impression that if we take it easy, put out the feelers, act on intuition, spread the word, we might succeed, but only if that is what the “Man from Balmore” wants. It is his life, his body, his story. God bless him.
I wonder how many people know about the UK Missing Persons Unit website and the work they do? I wonder, for those people that don’t know, how interested they might be too know?
The missing persons phenomenon is very real, and in the majority of cases truly horrifying. The Missing Persons Unit is the UK national and international point of contact for all missing person and unidentified body cases. They are the only UK agency focused exclusively on missing people. They serve all UK police forces as well as overseas police agencies.
Their national database provides a unique function enabling the cross-matching of outstanding missing individuals with unidentified people, bodies and remains.
Their extensive experience in dealing with missing person and unidentified body investigations provides an essential service to forces and can help resolve cases that may otherwise remain outstanding. This can save police forces significant time and resources, and provide the friends and family of missing and unidentified persons with vital closure.
The website, www.missingpersons.police.uk was launched in November 2012.
Quite a number of the cases, or alternative word for case, unknown Human Beings who deserve equal recognition, have seemingly taken their own lives, presumably often through certain sad and distressing life experiences.
Do we, as onlookers, as concerned individuals have the right, the reason, the permission to help identify people who in their moments of despair wanted rid of this world? Alongside those that chose to end their lives are also many people who have passed away through ill health, through accident, through old age. Again, do we have the right to attempt to identify these people? Can we make the world a better place by resolving such mysteries? Will it help their individual souls? Will it help the families and friends of the five hundred and sixty four people that are listed on this site? One would hope so. One would think so, in a lot of the cases. One might hope, in all of the cases.
The fact that the UK Missing Persons Unit is asking for the public’s help in the identification of these people, firstly gives us, the public, permission to care, to look, to think, and to share the information displayed.
In the Press section of the website it states, Although many unidentified cases receive local or national publicity at the time they are found, this publicity may be short lived, and experience has shown that the families and friends of these people may not see or fail to recognize the significance of this initial publicity. There is therefore a need to continually publicise these unidentified cases in order to maximise the possibility of families/friends who have lost contact with people or who have reported them as missing seeing the details of the case and recognizing that the individual may be their missing relative/friend. The website also provides members of the public with the means by which to suggest possible identifications in a clear and simple manner through communication with the Missing Persons Unit, the details which can be initially reviewed without additional burden on police forces.
The search facility on the website is excellent, in my opinion. It is wide reaching and is easy to use. Having relatively quickly worked out how to use it I was able to ascertain that of the twelve hundred or so people of the Unit’s records, five hundred and sixty-four people are listed on the site to date. Of that large figure there are details of four hundred and ninety-two males, sixty-six females, and six whose gender are unknown.
Fifteen people are listed from the 1960’s, one hundred and sixty-four people from the 1970’s, one hundred and fifty-eight from the 80’s, eighty-five from the 90’s, ninety-three from the 2000’s and forty-seven people from the 2010’s. I have one or two people in the wrong category in these statistics. Apologies to those concerned.
And where do those of us with an interest in helping go from here? Families and friends will potentially have the ability to give great focus and clarity to descriptions of their lost loved ones. From being able to describe positions of bodily scars, clothing, jewelry, tattoos, height, complexion, gender and ethnicity, perhaps some extra hope can be found in many people’s long searches for those they fear are lost to the world.
For those of us who sit with concern and even wonder at how it is possible for so many people to lay unidentified, perhaps we can act on the words above in the Press section and share in the best way we can the details of the website so that I hope, closure and a degree of ease can be felt when a loved one has been found and a mystery understood.
On the website you will find four hundred and three people of white European make up. You will find thirty people of Afro/Caribbean descent, eighteen of dark European, thirteen of Asian descent, ten Oriental and eighty-eight of unknown ethnicity.
You will be able to search for body peculiarities, piercings, where and when people were found, what they had on their possession and on many a body some quite startling and unique tattoos. I sincerely believe a discussion amongst our World’s tattoo brotherhood might in time unearth some positive identifications.
Sharing the knowledge, expertise and excellent search facility on the UK Missing Persons Unit website might help somebody put years of pain and unknowing to rest. We might be able to help in the recognition of a life help in limbo, name a person, log their contribution to a life lived on earth.
I wonder how many people do know of the existence of www.missingpersons.police.uk? Do you?