One year since she disappeared, when will we know how Wisbech student Alisa Dmitrijeva died?
TODAY marks the first anniversary of the disappearance of Latvian student Alisa Dmitrijeva. What happened between then and when her body was found four months later remains a mystery to her shattered family.
There was drinking and dancing into the early hours on the beach. Four months after she partied the night away, they found her decomposed body in woodland at Anmer on the Royal Estate – little over a mile from where the Queen and members of the Royal Family had gathered to spend Christmas.
There’s no suggestion that any member of estate staff, let alone a member of the Royal household had any involvement in the death of Alisa Dmitrijeva.
But the location alone meant the discovery of the 17-year-old Latvian student’s body received blanket coverage. Yet a year to the day since Alisa went missing, what happened to her remains a mystery.
On the eve of the first anniversary of her disappearance yesterday, police refused to discuss the progress of their investigation into the death of a young woman who came to Britain in search of a better life and ended up dumped on a remote hillside.
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Alisa was last seen in Friars Street, King’s Lynn, in the early hours of Wednesday, August 31, 2011. She had spent the night before at a beach party at Snettisham, possibly leaving the open-air gathering at some point in the evening and returning later on.
Cambridgeshire police launched a missing person investigation after Alisa was reported missing from her home in Wisbech by family members, on September 6.
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She had shared a rented semi-detached house overlooking a park in the town with her grandmother Lidija, her father Olegs and Viktorija, her 10-year-old sister. Her mother Anzela lived and worked a few miles away in Lincolnshire.
In late October, three months after Alisa’s disappearance, police offered a �5,000 reward for information. There were reports of sightings.
Detectives were trying to trace a distinctive car, a bottle green P-registration Lexus GS300 which had been seen in King’s Lynn and the Heacham area on August 31.
Alisa had been due to start a course at the College of West Anglia, in King’s Lynn. But some linked her to darker elements of the migrant community, including the drug scene which operates around its fringes.
Her family’s worst nightmare came true on New Year’s Day, when a dog walker found a decomposed body in a small covert near the Royal Stud.
Police believed it was Alisa from the outset. But initial post-mortem tests failed and it was a week before DNA taken from a thigh bone confirmed the identity of the body.
While there was ivy growing nearby, the creeping plant had not grown over the young woman’s remains. Ivy stops growing around the end of August. That meant the body had to have been dumped in September or later.
Police searched Snettisham beach for Alisa’s LG mobile phone, which was not found with her body. They appealed to the Eastern European community in Latvian, Lithuanian and Russian online and through posters in the windows of corner shops, amid the cards advertising casual work and flats to rent.
In March, detectives found the green Lexus in a scrapyard in Wisbech.
They said forensic scientists were comparing soil and pollen spores found in the car with samples taken around the spot where Alisa’s body was found. Sandringham is named after its distinctive soil – Sand Dersingham, the sandy part of Dersingham.
On May 1, two men from the Wisbech area were arrested in King’s Lynn, on suspicion of Alisa’s murder. The men, aged 28 and 31, were released on bail. On July 3, they were bailed for a further month.
Two weeks ago, the investigation took another twist when the men – who have not been named – were told that they were no longer under suspicion of Alisa’s murder.
“They have been informed that they are no longer under arrest in relation to her murder,” police said in a statement.
“However, they remain on bail and the investigation continues with a view to a file being submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service with regards to any other offences that may have been committed in connection with Alisa’s death.
“Her death is still being treated as suspicious. The two men have been bailed until September.”
Police are not planning any further appeals. A decision is expected from the CPS at the end of September, regarding any “other offences” which may have been committed in connection with Alisa’s death.
Perhaps then, or soon afterwards, the obvious nagging question will be answered – was Alisa murdered, or did she meet her end in some other way?
Yesterday, police would only confirm that her death was still being treated as suspicious.
An inquest will not be held until after the police investigation is concluded, when CPS lawyers decide whether there is enough evidence and likelihood of conviction to support a criminal charge or charges.
Alisa’s body was released to her family in January. She was cremated and her remains taken back to Latvia, where they were interred in a cemetery in the Baltic country’s capital Riga, where she spent her childhood.
“I will go out to Latvia on August 31 to where Alisa grew up and go to the cemetery,” her grandmother said a few weeks ago, when news of the latest development broke.
“I hope when I get back from Latvia, things will be much calmer and still but I don’t know how long we will feel this way. I don’t know [her killers] but I just want to know why they did it.
“I am very happy with the police because the police are doing everything possible and have been keeping us informed every week.
“I would like to thank the police and also the British government for all they have done to help my family during this difficult time – in Latvia nothing would.”