Wife's body is found 10 years after her murder

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The body of a battered wife, reported missing 10 years ago, has been found under the floorboards of her home in Suffolk by a prospective purchaser.

Police identified her as Margaret Bennett, who was 50 at the time of her disappearance. Her husband Frank, who reported her missing, is thought to have murdered her and thrown himself under a train three years later.

A local builder discovered the remains under the floorboards at the house in Field Terrace Road, Newmarket, Suffolk, while he was inspecting the house.

At about 6pm on Thursday the builder, who has asked not to be identified, was checking for rising damp. He removed part of the fitted carpet in the downstairs front room, revealing that a section of floorboards had been cut away and replaced.

He decided to take up the boards to look at the foundations, but in the soil underneath he disturbed the remains of a body wrapped in polythene.

Because of the deterioration of the remains no cause of death has been established, but a Home Office pathologist, Dr Nat Cary, examined the scene yesterday morning and the body will be removed for further analysis.

Mrs Bennett was reported missing by her husband on 27 January 1985. He claimed he had last seen her three days earlier when they had argued before he went to work. He told police his wife had left their home taking a suitcase of clothing and pounds 25 cash by the time he returned from work.

The couple were described as having a "turbulent" relationship and Mrs Bennett, who has two sons from a previous marriage, is believed to have been a victim of domestic violence. She was well known at the local women's refuge and had frequently gone missing from home before.

A Suffolk police spokesman said: "Police were suspicious about the incident. After extensive nationwide inquiries failed to trace Mrs Bennett, her husband was interviewed by detectives. However, no evidence emerged to suggest she had been the victim of foul play.

"On Monday 7 November 1988, Mr Bennett's body was discovered beside a railway track in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, after he walked out in front of a train. No suicide note was found and the coroner reported an open verdict."

Inquiries into Mrs Bennett's "disappearance" continued and in 1993, acting on an anonymous tip-off, police dug up the patio.

"This was obviously a very unusual case,"said Detective Superintendent Peter Worobec. "On the face of it, Mrs Bennett was murdered by her violent husband and buried under the floorboards. Because the couple lived alone no one was aware of what had occurred in the house. Police were suspicious at the time, but no evidence emerged which would have warranted a full scale search of the house.

"This would appear to be an isolated domestic incident, where the prime suspect has also died. However, forensic inquiries will be carried out to confirm our suspicions are correct."

The house has been sealed off by police, and Mrs Bennett's sons have been informed.