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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 07:05 GMT 08:05 UK
Search resumes in body theft case
Gladys Hammond
Gladys Hammond was the mother-in-law of a guinea pig breeder
Police investigating the desecration of a woman's grave will resume their search of woodlands where animal rights extremists claim to have buried her.

Around 100 officers began searching Brakenhurst Wood, Newchurch, Staffordshire, on Tuesday.

The body of Gladys Hammond, 82, was taken from a church in Yoxall, Staffs in October. Her relatives run a guinea pig breeding farm in nearby Newchurch.

A group called The Animal Rights Militia claimed she was buried locally.

Police said the search is expected to last until Thursday.

This complex investigation is progressing well and our goal remains to catch those responsible and find Mrs Hammond's body
Det Chief Insp Nick Baker, Staffordshire Police
Despite appeals for the group to reveal the exact location they have not made contact again.

Det Chief Insp Nick Baker, who is leading the investigation, said: "The Animal Rights Militia have not made contact since our appeal leaving us no option but to carry out these extensive and time-consuming searches.

"We have carried out limited searches at Brakenhurst Wood, which is over 90 acres in size, in the past.

"Teams of officers will be involved in thorough searches of carefully selected areas of the wood.

Death threats

"We would ask members of the public to help us by staying away from the wood while our searches go on and thank them for their patience.

"This complex investigation is progressing well and our goal remains to catch those responsible and find Mrs Hammond's body."

Mrs Hammond, who was buried in St Peter's churchyard seven years ago, was the mother-in-law of Christopher Hall, part-owner of Darley Oaks Farm. The farm breeds animals for medical research,

The Hall family has been subjected to a long-running campaign of intimidation by extremists, including hate mail, malicious phone calls, hoax bombs and arson attacks.

Staff have also received death threats.

The group sent letters to the BBC and the Burton Mail newspaper in April, claiming one sixth of Mrs Hammond's remains were buried in a sealed plastic container 2ft underground in the woods.

Letters 'name stolen body site'
08 Apr 05 |  Staffordshire
Bail dropped in grave theft case
31 Mar 05 |  Staffordshire
Activists 'no-go' zone rejected
17 Mar 05 |  Staffordshire
Guinea pig farm's family targeted
11 Mar 05 |  Staffordshire
Group urged to reveal burial site
15 Apr 05 |  Staffordshire

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