In the quiet village of Micheldever, Hampshire, a chilling discovery has haunted investigators since December 1, 2017, when the remains of an unidentified man were unearthed in a disused barn. Now, six years later, detectives are reigniting their pursuit of answers, appealing to the public in France to unravel the enigma that surrounds this case.
This true crime saga begins with a plea from the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary, who, in collaboration with missing person charity Locate International, are calling upon the southern reaches of France for assistance. The University of Reading's forensic scrutiny of the remains has prompted this latest international investigation.
The initial findings paint a picture of a man who seemingly lived on the fringes of society, his existence documented by the relics discovered at the scene – a weathered sleeping bag, a well-thumbed road map, and a worn rucksack. It appears that he embraced an outdoor lifestyle, ultimately succumbing to the hands of natural causes, shrouded in the solitude of a desolate barn.
A breakthrough in 2019 led investigators to witnesses who had encountered the mysterious traveler back in the late summer of 2012. His request to camp overnight in a garden in Itchen Stoke, just seven miles from the eventual discovery site, unveiled a man with a French accent, fluent in English.
Described as white, aged 35 to 50, approximately 5’8’’ tall with brown hair, he claimed to be on a journey through England en route to Ireland or Canada. Intriguingly, he professed past service in the French Military and hinted at possible hearing impairment in one ear.
Despite the wealth of details gathered, including extensive forensic and DNA examinations, the identity of the man remains elusive. Recent isotope analysis, conducted by geochemist Dr Stuart Black, offers tantalising clues about his origin, pointing to southern or south-eastern France, western Switzerland, or Corsica as his likely birthplace.
The analysis also suggests a childhood spent in an urban environment with a diet rich in marine fish.
Now, Locate International, a UK-based charity specialising in cold cases, has taken the reins. A renewed appeal stretches across southern France, urging French citizens to scour their memories for any connection to the man whose lonely demise has haunted investigators for years.
Doug Utting, from the Serious Case Review team at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary, said: “I would like to thank Locate International
and Dr Stuart Black at the University of Reading for all their help so far with this case.
“It seems very likely that this man died very shortly after interacting with the witnesses we have now identified and lay undiscovered for five
“Our enquiries have led us to believe that he grew up in southern or south-eastern France, Corsica or western Switzerland.
“Through this new appeal, I hope we can hear from people in those areas that recognise the man described as someone they may know and who they have not seen or heard from since 2012.”
Dave Grimstead, CEO of Locate International, said: “The key to us solving this mystery seems to lie in France. “Does he look like anyone you lost
contact with? Did you serve with him in the military at any point? Do you remember someone losing their hearing in one ear in this way?
“He died alone, but we want to make sure he is not forgotten after his death. Even just one small piece of information you have can help us
Hampshire Constabulary has also re-released the above facial reconstruction image of the mystery man as part of its renewed appeal. Do you recognise the man in the image? Perhaps you met a man matching this description who told you a similar story about his travel plans? Do you know anyone from France, Switzerland or Corsica who may fit the description or who you have not heard from, since late 2012?
If you hold any information, regardless of its perceived significance, reach out to authorities at 101, quoting reference 44170467777, or submit
information through the official police website at https://www.hampshire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/cor/tell-us-about-existing-case-report/.
No detail is too small; every piece of information could be the vital clue needed to solve the mystery and bring closure to this
perplexing true crime tale.
The missing puzzle piece may be within your grasp, waiting to unveil the truth behind the unknown traveler of Micheldever.