Witney: Body of woman, 76, found after river search

Iona, whose surname has not been released, was last seen in Witney town centre on Monday, February 12.

Emergency services have continued to search the river and Thames Valley Police have announced today (Wednesday, May 1) that a body believed to be Iona has been found.

Following the 76-year-old’s disappearance, police divers took part in a major search operation of 2km of the River Windrush and a specialist dive team from Avon and Somerset were brought in.

Marine units, specialist search and rescue, the criminal investigation department, the missing investigation support team and the national police air service searched nearly 2km of the river in the first two weeks.

Lowland Rescue Oxfordshire, a team of professional volunteers who support the police in searching for high-risk risk vulnerable people, deployed a Water Unit, Drone Unit and personnel to search river banks from 6am on Sunday, March 4.

She was last seen wearing a brown three-quarter length coat with fur around the hood, leggings and black Nike trainers.

Her death is currently being treated as unexplained by the force but it is not believed to be suspicious, and a file will be prepared for the coroner.

Detective Inspector James Holden-White said: “We are currently supporting the woman’s next of kin and our thoughts remain with them at this incredibly difficult time.

“I would like to thank everyone who shared our appeal.

“It is with great sadness that we have to inform you of this tragic outcome.”

A week after her disappearance Chief Inspector James Sullivan said police were “extremely concerned” for her welfare but were “keeping an open mind and following all lines of enquiry”.

The search had initially focused on the stretch of river near the Windrush Leisure Centre in Witan Way.

A person was reported to have entered the water– prompting a major response from the emergency services.

One man, who lives near the river, said at the time: “It’s very treacherous down by the river. I rarely walk down there myself.”

Another woman from Witney added: “I normally walk in daylight with someone else, but it is still worrying to think about.”

Tributes have started to be made to Iona in the Oxford Mail’s book of condolence.

Shantelle  Wilson wrote : “Dear Iona, it was lovely to know you and for you to trust me cutting your hair.

“We did have some giggles and tears now you rest in peace my lovely lots of love to you.”

Christine James added: “How very sad. There was always hope but now at least you have closure. My condolences to you all.”


  1. ^ Man killed in M40 lorry crash into bridge near Oxford services (www.oxfordmail.co.uk)
  2. ^ Weather warning as Oxfordshire in for a ‘wet and stormy night’ (www.oxfordmail.co.uk)