The female whose head was found in a discarded shopping bag next to the Hawthornvale path in Newhaven has been finally identified as Heather Stacey, a 44-year-old mother of two.
The gruesome discovery was made by a local dog walker in the early hours of New Year's Eve, and further bodily remains have since been found. The additional remains were discovered at more than one location, less than a mile away from the original scene, and are also believed to have belonged to the 44-year-old.
Ms Stacey is believed to have died towards the end of 2007, while she was living in Granton, but police have yet to confirm the cause of death. No missing persons report was filed in light of her disappearance, leading police to mark her death as suspicious.
Since DNA tests confirmed the identity of the mother of two, further details have emerged of a life described by one of the senior officers as, “pretty torrid.”
It is believed that Heather Stacey suffered an abusive marriage at the hands of former soldier Michael Williamson, and was left badly scarred after he slashed her face. Williamson was jailed for 18 months following the incident in 1995. Ms Stacey moved to Edinburgh after her second relationship also broke down.
A police spokesperson confirmed: “We are speaking to her relatives to try and piece together what was happening in her life before she died. There's still quite a few blanks to fill.”
Following the discovery, a 54-year-old man named as Alan Cameron was arrested and charged with attempting to defeat the ends of justice and breach of peace. The offences are believed to have taken place over the course of last year, and Mr Cameron has since made a second appearance at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, where he was fully committed for trial and remanded in custody. Mr Cameron made no plea.
Due to the many remaining questions surrounding the murder, police have launched several appeals for further information in a bid to piece together the final months of Ms Stacey's life.
Her aunt, 71 year old Anna Michie from Dunfermline, who had lost contact with Ms Stacey’s mother, said that she had been following the case without realising that the victim was her neice.
“I hadn't spoken to Heather or her mum for over 20 years and had no idea she was the victim in this terrible case,” she said.
Stacey was sharing a flat with her boyfriend in Royston Mains Place, Edinburgh, during the months before her death. Police have continued to search this area for forensic evidence as part of the ongoing enquiry.