Could Wigan people have vital information about a tragic young woman?
That was the question being asked by Scots police today as they try to solve the mystery surrounding the death of Saima Ahmed whose body was found in Edinburgh woodland last month.
The 36-year-old Londoner was last seen alive on Sunday August 30 after boarding a train north is believed to have passed through Wigan later that day.
Officers, who say they have now established that her death is not suspicious, say she may or may not have alighted at Wigan North Western station that day because at the moment there is no CCTV evidence of her arrival in the Scottish capital.
But whether or not she spent time in the borough, investigators say that Wigan people who boarded trains to Edinburgh may have subsequently seen her as a passenger and even talked to her.
It was the bank holiday weekend and local events that day included a Joining Jack charity fun day and tractor rally at Aspull Rugby Union Club and another fun day at a new play centre at Eckersley Mill, Wigan Pier. It was the day after Wigan Athletic had beaten Crewe Alexandra at the DW Stadium.
Police only confirmed the identity of Saima’s body this week, its having been discovered in the Gogar area of Edinburgh on January 9. It was clear that the remains had been there for some considerable time.
A major investigation was launched after the discovery with forensice teams from Police Scotland scouring the area for clues.
Her death remains unexplained but it is not now thought that a third party was involved. DNA samples have helped to identify Saima was reported missing to the Metropolitan Police on August 31 - the day after she disappeared.
She was known to have left her Wembley home at around 8.30am, withdrew money from a local cash machine and boarded a train from the town which took her to Watford Junction.
Thereafter the trail goes colder. Police surmise that she may then have got on an 11.06 train to Northampton which then went on to Hemel Hempstead, Birmingham and through to Edinburgh, calling in at Wigan en route.
Officers are keen to speak to anyone who remembers Saima or who may have spoken to her to come forward.
Saima was described as an Asian female, around 5ft 5ins tall, medium build, with shoulder length straight dark hair. She was last seen wearing a dark long V-neck top, black trousers, black shoes and a black jacket.
Det Chief Insp Martin MacLean, Head of Crime Operations for Edinburgh CID, said: “At this stage of our inquiry we continue to treat Saima’s death as unexplained however there is no evidence of criminality as matters currently stand. Clearly there are a number of matters and facts we have yet to establish and it remains a mystery to Saima’s family why she travelled to Edinburgh.
“Today I am appealing to anyone who saw Saima on, or around August 30 2015 to please contact police immediately.
“I urge any regular rail users who may have been on these services - including those boarding in Wigan - to please think carefully and to get in touch with Police Scotland on 101 if you remember or spoke with Saima.”
In a statement issued through Police Scotland Saima’s family said: “We are extremely saddened and shocked by the death of Saima. She was a very loving and caring person who was part of a very close family.
“We are hoping someone can provide some information as to Saima’s journey on the 30th of August 2015 and help us to understand what happened to her. We would appreciate it if we are left alone at what is still a very difficult time for us. Thank you.”
Anyone with information is asked to ring police 101 - once through, ask for Police Scotland - or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.