Bolton, 1982.

A mummified body is discovered in the cellar of a house in Bolton.

The dead woman is covered in a News of the World newspaper dated March 1966.

She wears rosary beads and an eternity ring, but there is no other clue to her identity.

It is a mystery that, more than 40 years later remains unsolved.

Now  family of a man who found the remains in the cellar of a house, are looking for answers about her identity.

John and Wendy Baxendale moved into their new house in 1982 December 14 and were renovating it in Bromwich Street, The Haulgh, and got the shock of their lives when they found the remains of a human body.

Given the name ‘Mary Ellen’ by police, it is believed she could have been dead for as long as 17 years before the discovery.

Many leads have been and gone into the search for identity of Mary, but nothing has yet confirmed who she really was.

The investigation by a team of up to 30 detectives hit the national headlines -- and involved a search through the missing persons records of towns and cities throughout the UK.

But the officers on that 1982 inquiry were never able to establish the identity of the woman whose badly decomposed body was discovered in the cellar of a large Victorian house in Bromwich Street.

And at an inquest in Bolton in April, 1983, coroner David Blakey was told the cause of her death could not be determined.

He recorded an open verdict and her body was released for burial.

In a lonely ceremony, with a hearse and bearers paid for by Bolton social services department, she was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in a section of Heaton cemetery reserved for public funerals -- and remains there today.

The Bolton News: John Baxendale

John's daughter Yvonne Baxendale and her cousin, Sandra Cornes and her mum Susan Shepherd are featured on a BBC podcast.

They explain that John was clearing out the cellar with Wendy when she kicked something, which they thought was a mannequin.

John had a closer look and realised it was ‘more than a mannequin’ and took it down to the police station.

Sandra said: “They did not stay in the house long and Wendy was scared after the discovery and left soon after and brought up Yvonne somewhere else.

“The story was that Wendy kicked the head, but we do not know if that is true.”

Mary Ellen had been found with some belongings such as rosemary beads.

BBC Local podcast series The Forgotten Dead continues to investigate as part of a seven-part true crime series launched on Tuesday, May 14.

Presented by Jane Wilkinson from BBC Radio Manchester, the new series delves even further into the true identity of the mystery woman who police nicknamed ‘Mary Ellen’.

The Bolton News: Wendy and John Baxendale with Yvonne

Susan said: “We want to solve this case.

“I would love to get it solved as I was growing up, my uncle Johnny used to tell us about the story about finding a body in the cellar.

“To grow up and find out that nobody knows who this woman was, I’d just love to find out who it was.

“We need to get more investigation on it.”

John died in 2013, and Wendy died in 2016 and was only 51, leaving Sandra and Yvonne to continue looking into the case.

Sandra said: “It makes me feel sad that nobody has missed her or recognised her.

“Being on the podcast was really interesting and I am interested in it and I want to help and get it solved.”

Sandra and Yvonne remember how John used to tell the story.

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Sandra said: “It was told in like a fun way to scare little children as we were only eight or 10-years-old and always on the edge of the sofa.

“It didn’t seem real to us and now I feel quite bad, but it kept it in our memories.

“He picked the head up and put it in a plastic bag and walked to the Castle Street police station and put it on the desk while he had a roll-up cigarette, and it was just so typically him.”

In the first series, Jane, who also produces the podcast, looked back over the police investigation including the pioneering science which built a reconstruction of Mary Ellen’s face.

Now, she follows up on leads from listeners from the first series, to try to piece together the woman’s real identity.

Could ‘Mary Ellen’ be Eileen, a mystery Irishwoman who saved souls? Isabella, a housewife who left the family home and never came back? Brenda, a teenage girl planning to move in with her boyfriend? Or Matthew’s mum, a single parent trying to build a new life with her sons? The remarkable stories of these four women, and their connection to ‘Mary Ellen’ is uncovered in the new episodes of The Forgotten Dead.

Jane said: “I’ve been fascinated with Mary Ellen’s story ever since I stumbled over a picture of her face – an artist’s impression of what she might have looked like. Vulnerable and very human. So, when I first started searching my main aim was to discover her real name.

“But the search took me in some unexpected directions. There were stories of trauma, abuse and tragedy. I met families who had been looking for their missing loved ones for years, and some who found answers during my investigation. There have been plenty of twists and turns.”

‘The Forgotten Dead’ is available on BBC Sounds.

If anyone has any information email