The family of a woman believed to have been murdered abroad in 1992 have thanked Durham Police for its role in helping them to confirm her identity.

More than 30 years after her death, family members of Rita Roberts, 31, some of whom live in the Durham force area, have finally learned of her fate following an international police campaign.

The international police crime agency Interpol, together with Belgian, Dutch, and German police, launched the Identify Me campaign in May.

Its aim was to try to establish the identities of 22 women found dead in those countries in the last four decades.

One of the cases was dubbed, “the woman with the flower tattoo”, as the colourful adornment was found on her arm, contained the wording ‘R’nick’.

She was found dead in the Belgian port city of Antwerp, on June 3, 1992, and her identity has, until now, remained unknown.

The Northern Echo: Murder-victim Rita Roberts has been identified after her flower tattoo  was recognised by family

As part of the campaign, images relating to the women, who are all believed to have been murdered, were circulated in the hope of being able to find their relatives.

Within days of the appeal launch a family member in the UK contacted police, having recognised the tattoo, saying it was from 31-year-old Rita Roberts, from Cardiff, in Wales.

The last time they heard from her was via a postcard in May 1992.

Family members, including those in the Durham Police area, were put in contact with specially trained family liaison officers from the force, to support Belgian authorities in investigating the death and confirming her identity.

The investigation revealed further information, which helped confirm her identity.

Officers have continued to support Miss Roberts’ family, during what has been described as, “a heart-breaking time for them.”

The Northern Echo: Clothing from a murder victim dubbed the woman with the flower tattoo who has been identified as Rita Roberts after 31 years following an international appeal for informationClothing from a murder victim dubbed the woman with the flower tattoo who has been identified as Rita Roberts after 31 years following an international appeal for information (Image: INTERPOL)

In a statement the family members, who have asked to remain anonymous as they try to come to terms with the news, said: “We first came across Operation Identify Me via the BBC News app, in May.

“The last contact our family had with Rita was in 1992, whilst she was in Belgium, so naturally the article caught our attention.

“Shortly after reaching out to Interpol and connecting with the Antwerp Police, we had it confirmed that Rita was the woman with the flower tattoo.

“The news was shocking and heart-breaking.

“Our passionate, loving, and free-spirited sister was cruelly taken away.

“There are no words to truly express the grief we felt at that time, and still feel today.

“Whilst the news has been difficult to process, we are incredibly grateful to have uncovered what happened to Rita.

“We miss her deeply but are thankful for the excellent support and care of Belgium Missing Persons, Antwerp Police, Interpol, and Durham Constabulary.”

The family said the cross-border collaboration has, “given a missing girl back her identity”, while, “enabling the family to know she is at rest.”

The Northern Echo: Shoes from a murder victim dubbed the woman with the flower tattoo who has been identified as Rita RobertsShoes from a murder victim dubbed the woman with the flower tattoo who has been identified as Rita Roberts (Image: INTERPOL)

The statement added: ““Rita was a beautiful person who adored travelling.

“She loved her family, especially her nephews and nieces, and always wanted to have a family of her own.

“She had the ability to light up a room, and wherever she went, she was the life and soul of the party.

“We hope that wherever she is now, she is at peace.”

Detective Inspector Simon Turner, of Durham Police, said: “I am proud of the investigators involved, who have been able to support the identification of Rita Roberts, in this historic international case.

“As you can imagine, it has been an extremely traumatic time for Rita’s family.

“Dealing with news like this is even harder when the offence has happened abroad.

“Our family liaison officers have been working with local and international support networks to ensure the family have appropriate assistance through such a difficult time.”

An investigation into Miss Roberts’ death remains ongoing and police in Belgium urge anyone with any information to get in touch by emailing

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Identify Me continues and the site, Operation Identify Me (,  details the 21 women yet to be identified.

Miss Roberts’ family have also had the support of Eve Henderson, co-founder of the support group Murdered Abroad, which aims to help overcome challenges such as language, distance, culture, and the foreign justice system.

Anyone who has been affected by murder or manslaughter abroad can contact the group via Murdered Abroad ( for further support.