MYSTERY surrounds the death of a man whose badly burnt body was found in Leigh woodland.
Detectives today said they could not rule out murder but as yet do not know what killed the man nor even who he is.
And they admit that the remains could have lain undiscovered for anything up to a fortnight.
Officers were called by a member of the public shortly before 3pm on Monday to a secluded wooded area behind Pennington Road and Chestnut Drive in Leigh and there made the grim discovery.
Speaking at a press conference outside Leigh Police Station, chief investigating officer Supt Julian Snowball said: “The body has been significantly burnt which has made identification and the cause of death a difficult and prolonged process.
“We are awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination and an investigation by the fire brigade before we can ascertain what happened to this man.
“At the moment it is not a murder inquiry but we cannot rule out foul play.
“Forensic examinations so far have shown that the body could have been there for as little as 48 hours previous to the discovery or as much as two weeks.”
Supt Snowball said that personal effects found near the body are helping with the investigation and that a register of local missing persons was being consulted. As yet, he said, the identity of the deceased was completely unknown.
He added: “We want to reassure the public that we are doing all we can to find out what happened and ask that if anyone in the local area is concerned that they should contact police in their area.
“The area in which the body was found is clearly a regular place for people, possibly both adults and youngsters, to go and drink and even perhaps for homeless people to sleep.
“There is recent evidence of fires’ being lit in the area and we would like to hear from anybody who uses that place to contact us to help us with our investigation.”
Mr Snowball said there was no evidence to suggest any links to another recent and shocking death: that of young Steven Rourke whose body was found in a wheelie bin in Bickershaw last month.
Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.