A TINY piece of spine from the body of missing prostitute Shelley Armitage convinced detectives she is dead.
An inquest heard yesterday how the minute piece of tissue was recovered from a West Yorkshire river as police hunted for the missing former Huddersfield vice girl.
Det Supt Sukhbir Singh, a senior investigating officer in the case, told the inquest a small part of Ms Armitage’s spine was found in the same stretch of the River Aire where the remains of another missing prostitute, Ms Suzanne Blamires, were discovered.
Mr Singh said of Ms Armitage, 31: “She would not have been alive with this piece of spine missing from her body.”
Ms Armitage had worked in Huddersfield’s red-light area before she moved to Bradford.
The inquest also heard that a post-mortem examination carried out on the remains of Ms Blamires had revealed she was killed by a crossbow.
Coroner Roger Whittaker told an inquest at Bradford Coroners Court that tests carried out by Home Office pathologist Peter Vanezis on the remains of Ms Blamires, showed she was killed by the weapon.
He said: “I have a report in respect of Suzanne Blamires which satisfies me as to the cause of her death.
“The cause is effectively severe injuries caused by a crossbow.”
The remains of Ms Blamires, 36, were discovered in the River Aire in Shipley on May 25.
The coroner also told Mr Singh he was anxious to be informed if detectives found the remains of 43-year-old Susan Rushworth, another Bradford sex worker who disappeared last year, so that he could open the inquest into her death.
If her remains were not recovered he would apply to the Home Office to open an inquest without a body, he added.
Criminology student Stephen Griffiths, 40, is charged with murdering Ms Blamires between May 20 and May 25; murdering Ms Rushworth between June 22 2009 and May 25 this year; and murdering Ms Armitage between April 25 and May 25 this year.
Earlier this month Griffiths, of Thornton Road, Bradford, appeared in Sheffield Crown Court via videolink, and was told his case will be heard on October 15 at Bradford Crown Court.