Police head to Thailand meet family of so-called ‘Lady of the Hills’ found dead in Yorkshire Dales

Lamduan Seekanya. Photo: North Yorkshire Police.

A small team of cold case detectives and family liaison officers from North Yorkshire Police have arrived in Thailand to meet the parents and other family members of Lamduan Armitage (nee Seekanya) as part of an investigation into her death.

Lamduan’s body was found by walkers at Sell Gill near Pen-y-ghent, above Horton in Ribblesdale in the Yorkshire Dales, on 20 September 2004.

Her identity remained unknown until early 2019 when the force’s major investigation team’s cold case review unit achieved a breakthrough using a combination of media coverage and DNA testing.

A BBC Online article about the case in the January of that year was brought to the attention of Lamduan’s parents in Udon Thani, north-east Thailand.

They came forward to North Yorkshire Police believing the woman could be their daughter who they had not seen since 2004.

DNA testing was carried out which confirmed the woman to be Lamduan who would now be aged 55.

It was established that she was married mother of three who was living in northern England at the time of her unexplained death.

The woman’s body was found in this stream. Photo: North Yorkshire Police.

This breakthrough was publicised by North Yorkshire Police on 19 March 2019 which resulted in extensive national and international coverage about the case.

However, there were delays for the investigation team to receive legal authority to go to Thailand.

They were further hampered by international travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning this part of the investigation has been put on hold for almost four years.

Adam Harland, manager of the Cold Case Review Unit, said: “Despite the difficulties we have faced to progress the investigation in recent years, we remain determined to seek answers for Lamduan’s family about the circumstances of her being found dead in a beautiful but remote part of the Yorkshire Dales in September 2004.

“It has been frustrating to have had to wait so long to be able to travel to Thailand. We are hoping to speak with all the members of her family, including her husband, to gather their evidence about her life and to offer what support we can with regards to their loss.

“The loss of any family member in circumstances of homicide is a terrible blow, bringing a misery and a sense of loss that so often lasts a lifetime.

“There is, in this case, the additional pain that for 14 years it was not even known that this had been Lamduan’s fate.

“We will also be consulting with all the family members about a request that Lamduan’s remains be returned to her family in Thailand in accordance with their Buddhist faith.

“This is not a straightforward process to achieve, but they will have our assistance and support in bringing a resolution to this particularly unhappy case.

“We thank the Thai authorities for their co-operation with the investigation, and for the support we are receiving from law enforcement agencies in Thailand and United Kingdom.”

It is reported Lamduan married an English man and lived in Cumbria before her death.

Police have attempted to build a picture of Lamduan’s life in Thailand and at various places she lived in the UK between 1991 and 2004, including Portsmouth (Hampshire), Rugby (Warwickshire) and Preston (Lancashire).

It is also understood that Lamduan visited Thailand at some point between 2003 and 2004, but it is not known which part of the country she went to.

Lamduan was found more than a mile (2km) from the nearest road and was wearing only green jeans, socks, a ripped bra and a gold wedding band.

A T-shirt was found nearby. Her shoes were never recovered.

They said a possible cause was hypothermia.

A coroner returned an open verdict and she was buried in an anonymous grave.

However, it is now thought Lamduan died up to three weeks before walkers found her.

Her headstone says: “The Lady of the Hills. Found 20th Sept 2004. Name Not Known. Rest in Peace.”

Police have urged the public and press to avoid speculating about the investigation.

Mr Harland said: “North Yorkshire Police is aware of the widespread interest in this investigation which strikes at the heart of issues surrounding violence against women and girls in the United Kingdom, in Thailand, and around the world.

“To ensure that the investigation and the path of fair justice are not compromised, we strongly urge the media and people using social media to avoid damaging speculation about this case.

“We are doing all we can to seek answers and secure justice for Lamduan’s loved ones.

“After almost 19 years, during which time the community of Horton in Ribblesdale have shown respect and care for Lamduan when she was only known as the Lady of the Hills, it would be a tragedy if we were prevented from achieving this outcome due to damaging reporting and online speculation.”

Making a report to assist the investigation

  • Call the North Yorkshire Police incident room on 01609 643147 (put +44 before the number if calling from outside the UK) – please leave a voicemail message including contact information if requested.
  • Email: coldcasereviewunit@northyorkshire.police.uk
  • If you would prefer to remain anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or go to www.crimestoppers-uk.org
  • Please quote the North Yorkshire Police reference number 12170002439 when providing information about this case

1 Comment

  1. Whilst i have the uptmost respect for the poor lady surely sending “a small team” [exactly how many does this onvolve/]
    Surely current crimeproblems in the UK should take precedent over a disappearance 18 years ago
    Why not utilise the Thai police to interview the family etc thus saving on costs , translation problems etc. Jusrt supply them with a list of questions or carry out tghis excercse by video link

Comments are closed.