POLICE investigating the body-in-a-suitcase mystery yesterday released more information in the hope it may lead them closer to the killer.

The remains of a diminutive woman, no more than 4ft 11ins tall, were found on Sunday, dumped in a hedge on a country lane near Bilbrough on the edge of York.

But it was noon the following day before the suitcase was opened in the sterile environment of the mortuary at York District Hospital, in an attempt to preserve as much forensic evidence as possible.

The results of a post-mortem examination have not been confirmed and, as a result, police say they cannot be sure the woman was dead when she was put in the suitcase or if she died afterwards.

However, the man leading the inquiry has described her death as "horrendous".

"I don't think anyone deserves to end their life as an anonymous body stuffed in a suitcase and dumped in a hedgerow," said Detective Chief Inspector Alan Ankers.

At a briefing in York yesterday, Det Chief Insp Ankers confirmed detectives had made some progress by examining the Genova suitcase.

Probably originating in South Korea and measuring 11 x 20 x 28 ins, it is marked with the letters ABS and the number 4934615.

The silver hard plastic case has castors and an extending trolley handle.

"It is at the centre of our inquiries. We want to know how, when and where it was acquired and I am anxious to discover how long it was lying in the hedge,'' said Det Chief Insp Ankers.

The victim, who was aged between 20 and 40 and has been described as Asian Oriental, may also have been from the Far East, although there is no firm evidence yet to confirm a link between the origin of the suitcase and the dead woman's nationality.

Police are sifting through UK missing person files in the hope of identifying her, while Det Chief Insp Ankers said Interpol may be an option.

"However, what I really need is the assistance of people who live in the area around Bilbrough and Askham Richard. We want them to think back and tell us as much as they can about anything which may have seemed unusual recently - or even how long ago they first noticed the suitcase," he said.

Anyone who can help with the inquiry can contact York police on (01904) 618618, or call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111