Police closer to identifying woman killed near Stotfold

A MYSTERY going back 35 years may have been solved.

An appeal made in June to identify the body of a young woman found dead near Stotfold in the 70s in an Afghan coat has led police enquiries to Paris.

The woman, who is believed to have been aged between 23 and 25 years, was hit by a vehicle on the A1(M), just south of the access road from the A507 at Radwell in the early hours of February 18, 1975.

She was not wearing shoes, was not carrying a handbag or any form of identification and was wearing a big Afghan coat. There was some question of whether drivers had mistaken her for an animal because of the furry coat.

Despite the motorway being closed a number of times so a search could be carried out, no handbag or shoes were ever found. It was surmised at the time that she had possibly left a vehicle in a hurry because her feet indicated she had not walked barefoot very far.

The vehicle that struck her was never traced. It is not known whether the driver would have been aware they had hit her – or whether they thought they had collided with an animal.

The mystery of the woman’s death was featured as part of a review of a number of cases of unidentified bodies in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire called Operation Hermes.

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A press conference was held on June 18 to release details of five cases, including The Lady in the Afghan Coat who had told a driver on the night of her death that her name was Ann. It was featured in The Comet.

Since then, a man from Christchurch in Dorset contacted the Beds & Herts major crime unit’s cold case review unit.

He told detectives he recognised the facial reconstruction of the Lady in the Afghan Coat and that she had been wearing the coat when he first came across her hitch-hiking in the Stotfold area in the early 1970s.

At the time, hitch-hiking was a very common means of getting around. The young woman told him her name was Odile Ludic and she was either from north Paris or north of Paris.

She was studying English at a language school in Cambridge and needed accommodation so was offered a room at his family home.

She only stayed with the family for around six months but spoke often about her mother and sister, though never mentioned her father. She had friends in the Newquay area of Cornwall and would often hitch-hike to visit them. She also had a job at a packaging company on the Henlow Trading Estate.

Odile had a boyfriend, who has since passed away, and would spend evenings drinking with him in a social club in Stotfold that has since been demolished.

She liked to drink cider and was said to be a big Gary Glitter fan. When she moved out of the family home, Odile went to stay in Cambridge.

Detectives are currently making enquiries via Interpol in France to try and trace relatives of Odile and are keen to hear from anyone who has any information about her.

At the time the body was discovered, details of the incident were published in the local, national and international media, including television appeals. Both fingerprint and dental records were checked but to no avail.

The woman was 5ft 4in tall with a very slim, boyish figure, weighed about eight and a half stone and had size five feet.

She also had two distinctive warts/moles on her upper left thigh and pelvic area and a scar on the right leg, just below the knee.