Grim harvest in fields now includes head

Fourth severed body part discovered close to Leicestershire cemetery

The head was found by a passer-by in Asfordby, near Melton Mowbray, on Tuesday afternoon. It follows the discovery last week of a foot in Gloucestershire and a leg and an arm in Hertfordshire.

Leicestershire police have been in touch with detectives from the two counties to discuss whether the head could be from the same body as the other gruesome finds. It has been established that the leg and arm belonged to the same person, although the foot is from a separate victim.

Detective Superintendent Julia McKechnie of Leicestershire Constabulary said it was unclear whether the head belonged to a man or a woman. She said: "Our priority at this stage is to determine the identity of the person involved. This will largely be determined by the forensic investigations, which could take some days to complete. In the meantime we are looking into the circumstances surrounding the discovery but are keeping an open mind as to why and how the head came to be in the field."

The head was found close to a cemetery, but a police spokesman said that officers were confident that it was not from a nearby grave.

The discovery in Leicestershire came a day after police in Hertfordshire confirmed that a left leg found in a holdall in Cottered on 22 March, and an arm, found with the hand still attached the following Sunday in Wheathampstead, 12 miles away, belonged to the same white or Asian man, who was between 5ft 6in and 5ft 10in tall.

They have said they are treating the case as a murder inquiry and believe that the killer is disposing of his victim's body at various spots around the county.

The foot in Gloucestershire was quickly ruled out of the investigation. It was found on the banks of the river Severn, also on 22 March, inside a grey sports sock and a size 91/2 training shoe. It has now been sent to a forensic lab in London and officers hope to be in possession of a DNA profile next week.

Detective Inspector Steve Bean of Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: "If the DNA profile is already on the database we will know straightaway who the foot belonged to. If not, we will gather DNA samples from every missing person in the region, through toothbrushes or hairbrushes, and compare them against the sample from the foot."