York & North Yorkshire

'Thai bride' body: Relative of Lamduan Armitage visits grave

Thai woman kneeling at a graveside, which is surrounded by flowers Image copyright Thai Women's Network UK
Image caption Lamduan Armitage's cousin Buathong Trimble visited her grave at St Oswald's Church in Horton-in-Ribblesdale

The relative of a Thai woman who was finally identified 15 years after being found dead in the Yorkshire Dales has said she "broke into tears" when she visited her grave for the first time.

Lamduan Armitage, nee Seekanya, was discovered near Pen-y-ghent in 2004.

She was named The Lady of the Hills because her identity was unknown and buried at St Oswald's Church in Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

Buathong Trimble said she was "speechless" upon arrival at the site.

Visiting her grave on Saturday, Mrs Trimble, who is Mrs Armitage's first cousin once removed, said: "I was saddened, I felt sorry for her.

"I couldn't help breaking into tears.

"I told her, 'my dear, not so long and you will get to go home, your parents are waiting'."

Image copyright Family handout/Thai Women's Network UK
Image caption Lamduan Armitage's body was identified after her family in Thailand read a BBC story about the case

Mrs Trimble said she had been "shocked" to learn that Mrs Armitage was identified as The Lady of the Hills.

"I cried a lot, I couldn't sleep," she said.

Mrs Trimble said she wanted to "thank everyone on behalf of her family" for looking after her relative, and added that Mrs Armitage "should rest in our local temple" in Thailand.

"This is how we do it in Buddhism," she said. "It's better if she gets to be near her family."

Deputy of the Thai Women Network in the UK Kanittaya Graham, who accompanied Mrs Trimble to Lamduan's grave, said it was an "emotional" experience.

She said: "I felt really sad when I saw it. She's been there [in the grave] unknown for years.

"It was emotional. Buathong was very tearful.

"I can see they've really looked after her. I feel really appreciative that they looked after Lamduan even though they didn't know her."

Image copyright Thai Women's Network UK
Image caption Prayers were held at Mrs Armitage's gravestone

A crowdfunding page to raise money for her remains to be sent back to her family in Thailand has exceeded its £5,000 target by more than £600.

Mrs Armitage's half-naked body was found face down in a stream by walkers near Pen-y-ghent on 20 September 2004.

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

Despite extensive appeals, police were unable to identify her and the parish council donated a burial plot and organised her funeral.

Every year a memorial service for her has been held at the church.

Image copyright DONLAWAT SUNSUK/BBC THAI
Image caption Buasa and Joomsri Seekanya said they had not heard from their daughter since 2004

A cold case review, launched in 2016, concluded she was aged between 25 and 35 and originally from south-east Asia.

But in January, Buasa and Joomsri Seekanya, from Udon Thani in north-east Thailand, came forward to say they believed the woman was their daughter Lamduan after reading a BBC story about the case.

The family said they had not heard from her since 2004.

Police finally confirmed her identity on Tuesday after extensive inquiries and DNA testing with family members in Thailand.

Mrs Armitage moved to the UK in 1991 after marrying her husband David Armitage in Thailand, and lived in Portsmouth, Rugby and Preston.

Image copyright Richard Hill
Image caption When Richard Hill posed for this picture, he did not realise Lamduan Armitage's body was wrapped around the rocks behind him

North Yorkshire Police are now investigating her death and want to speak to anyone who may have known her or her family.

Detectives, who believe she could have been a "Thai bride" and may have been killed, are looking to interview members of Mrs Armitage's family and carry out further inquiries in Thailand in due course.

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