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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 01:49 GMT 02:49 UK
Genealogists help police inquiry
Family history documents
A death certificate confirmed how, when and where the girl died
Police have turned to amateur internet genealogists for help with an inquiry into a girl's death 50 years ago.

A West Mercia detective constable was trying to find out what had happened to the four-year-old in Bromsgrove.

But with the coroner unable to find any details for the name given, the officer asked Rootschat forum members for help.

They scoured the records and eventually found the relevant death certificate. Police said that thanks to their input, the investigation was now closed.

Close matches

Bromsgrove police were attempting to establish whether the girl was killed in an old woodyard in the town some time in the 1950s.

They had an idea of the girl's first name and a surname was suggested, but they did not match any of the existing records.

It's amazing that people from all over the world can contribute to what is a local police inquiry
Sarah Mackay, Rootschat

The officer posted an online query, saying he would welcome any contributions Rootschat members could offer and admitting he had no expertise in historical research.

They got to work, suggesting lines of inquiry and searching for documents online with matches or close matches with the name and submitted information.

Within three days, they had uncovered details for the likeliest candidate, a girl with a similar name to that suggested, who was run over by a lorry in Bromsgrove in 1956.

Police said that this was the record they wanted, and thanked forum members for their "invaluable" help.

Co-founder of the 16,000-strong Rootschat forum Sarah Mackay said: "We are very proud of being able to help the police in this matter.

"It's amazing that people from all over the world can contribute to what is a local police inquiry."

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