Police in Banteay Meanchey province on Wednesday ended speculation that human remains discovered in Poipet on Saturday belong to British backpacker Eddie Gibson, who was 19 years old when he disappeared in Cambodia 10 years ago.
Reports that items of clothing uncovered at the scene were consistent with clothes worn by the teenager led to a flurry of speculation in the British media Wednesday that his remains had finally been found.
But a joint investigation by National Police and provincial authorities concluded that the bones, which were discovered by a villager in Poipet City’s Poipet commune near the Cambodia-Thailand border, belong to a male of Asian origin.
“After police carried out tests on the bones we concluded that they belong to an Asian person between 30 and 40 years old and that the time of death was about 5 years ago,” said provincial police chief Kheng Soum.
After a decade desperately searching for their son with the help of U.K. police and private investigators, Eddie Gibson’s family last year revealed that new information led them to believe he had been robbed and murdered in Poipet as he was making his way to the Thai border crossing.
News that remains had been found in the area gave the family fresh hope of finding closure, according to local Sussex newspaper The Argus.
“It sounds strange but we hope it is Eddie. We know he’s not alive and to find his body would allow us to properly say goodbye and give him a proper burial,” Eddie’s father, Mike Gibson, told the paper on Tuesday.
The U.K Foreign Office and Suffolk County police were also reportedly informed of the discovery and asked to send dental records to Cambodia.
But deputy provincial police chief Sith Luos said Wednesday that a police investigation had quickly determined the bones were not those of the 1.83-meter-tall British national.
“The results of primary tests measuring the bones led us to estimate the height of the corpse was 1.67 meters and the skull was small and Asiatic,” he said.
“The remains are now in Sopheak Mongkul pagoda in Banteay Meanchey province,” Mr. Luos added.
Chhum Pech, chief of O’Ambel commune in the province’s Serei Saphoan City, confirmed that the pagoda received the remains at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.