Daily Mail

‘Woman with f lower tattoo’ identified by family... 30 years on

British murder victim dumped in Belgian river

- By Elena Salvoni and Sam Merriman

THE family of a British woman missing since 1992 have said they are heartbroke­n to discover her ‘untimely and senseless murder’ in Belgium after an agonising search spanning three decades.

They also revealed that Rita Roberts’ sister identified her as the ‘woman with the flower tattoo’ following a recent appeal for informatio­n from Interpol.

Her sister-in-law, Paulette Roberts, said Rita ‘passionate­ly loved her family and will be greatly missed’. She posted

‘Life and soul of the party’

on social media last night: ‘Today, we come together as a family to share both a heartbreak­ing and hopeful story that has deeply impacted us. My sister-in-law has recently found our sister, Rita Roberts, after an agonising 31-year search.

‘However, the joy of this reunion is marred by the tragic news of Rita’s untimely and senseless murder in Belgium.’

The Operation Identify Me appeal saw Belgian, Dutch and German police join Interpol to try to identify 22 women believed to have been murdered over a 40-year period.

Mrs Roberts added: ‘As Donna and my husband grapple with the pain of losing Rita, we are compelled to raise awareness about 21 other unidentifi­ed women who, like Rita once was, are waiting to be recognised and reunited with their families. It is our collective responsibi­lity to shed light on their plight.’

Belgian police revealed that its investigat­ion has found Rita may also have spent time in the Netherland­s, and said they have already spoken to people who knew her, though this has ‘not yet led to a breakthrou­gh’.

Meanwhile, a family court in Belgium has passed a new judgment to correct Rita’s death certificat­e by adding her identity. A spokesman for the Belgian public prosecutor said: ‘In this way, Rita’s family will receive an official document of her death. That is very important for the victim’s relatives.’

Rita’s body was dumped in a river in Antwerp in 1992, with the hunt for her killer ongoing.

She moved to Belgium from Cardiff in February of that year, and her family last heard from her when they received a postcard that May. Soon after, on June 3, her body was discovered floating against the grate of a water treatment plant in the Groot Schijn river.

She was wearing neon sports clothes and her most striking feature was a tattoo on her left

forearm of a black flower with green leaves and ‘ R’Nick’ inscribed underneath. She remained nameless for 31 years, until the internatio­nal effort to identify her body was launched this year and her sister recognised her tattoo. The family then travelled to Belgium to formally identify her.

‘Rita was a beautiful person,’ they said in a statement.

‘She loved her family, especially her nephews and nieces, and always wanted to have a family of her own. She was the life and soul of the party.’

Operation Identify Me marks the first time Interpol has made public details of Black Notices, which share some key informatio­n on unidentifi­ed bodies. It has received more than 500 messages and tips from the public, Interpol said.

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 ?? ?? Tragic end: Rita Roberts, left. Above, the distinctiv­e flower tattoo on her arm
Tragic end: Rita Roberts, left. Above, the distinctiv­e flower tattoo on her arm

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