Body found in Thames was attack suspect Everett Watson

Everett Watson
Image caption Everett Watson was identified as a white man when his body was first recovered

A body pulled from the River Thames 24 years ago has been identified as a man who was being hunted by police on suspicion of attempted murder, an inquest has ruled.

Everett Watson was finally identified after his body was exhumed and his DNA matched to his daughters and sister.

He disappeared in 1993 after allegedly attacking a woman with an axe in Three Mile Cross, Berkshire.

His body was found in the river in 1995 in Sonning, about five miles away.

A post-mortem examination soon after identified the body as that of a white man who had drowned and it was buried without being named.

The inquest at Reading Coroner's Court heard how his alleged victim was left padlocked inside a caravan after the attack.

The woman, who has never been named, was left with severe head injuries and surgeons needed to rebuild her face.

Police have always believed Mr Watson drove off in her Lada car after the attack.

The vehicle was discovered in the Thames in 2003, six miles upstream from where the unidentified body had been pulled from the water eight years earlier.

Det Con Jacqueline Redgard, of Thames Valley Police's cold case team, told the hearing the number of "coincidences" made her suspect it could be Mr Watson's body.

She requested the body be exhumed so DNA tests could be carried out.

The results showed the chances it was not Mr Watson were a billion to one, she told the inquest.

Coroner Heidi Connor recorded an open conclusion, saying a second post mortem found there was not enough evidence to conclude Mr Watson drowned.

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