Hoping to close Saskatchewan's oldest cold case, Saskatoon police have released a facial reconstruction of the mysterious "woman in the well" murdered a century ago.
A mannequin-like model of the woman's head and torso was unveiled to reporters in Saskatoon Wednesday morning. It depicts a young woman with long, wavy, auburn hair coiled into a bun at the back. She's fair-skinned, with hazel eyes and a prominent nose.
Police want to know who she is, and who killed her.
"For us, it's rather exciting," said Sgt. Phil Farion, the lead investigator in the case. "Will we ever solve it? I believe it's still possible." Remains of the unidentified woman were found in June 2006, when a construction crew was digging at the site of an abandoned well in the Sutherland area east of the University of Saskatchewan.
Investigators have determined the woman, whose remains were found in a barrel, was murdered some time between 1900 and 1920. They believe she was between 25 and 35 years old.
Police released some previously undisclosed details about the investigation Wednesday — details that would tend to remove any lingering doubt that she was murdered.
The remains were wrapped in burlap that looked like part of a bag, Farion said. There was also evidence the woman's left upper arm had been sawed off, he said.
Since 2006, dozens of people in Saskatchewan have come forward with tips and some have undergone DNA testing to see if they are related to the woman.
Investigators hope the reconstruction will help narrow down the list of possibilities for future DNA tests.
Meanwhile, City of Saskatoon archivist Jeff O'Brien has been doing some investigating himself, focusing on the history of Sutherland.
He notes the clothing the woman had been wearing was typical of the 1908 to 1916 period. At that time, Sutherland was a railway town of about 1,000 people, he said.
The well the woman was found in must have been abandoned at the time of her death, which suggests it happened after 1914, when Sutherland started getting water piped in from Saskatoon, he said.