Bristol: Everything we know about the manhunt for ‘human remains’ found in suitcases at Clifton Suspension Bridge

Bristol: Everything we know about the manhunt for ‘human remains’ found in suitcases at Clifton Suspension Bridge

A manhunt is underway in Bristol after two suitcases containing suspected human remains were found on the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Avon and Somerset Police said officers were called to the scene at 11.57pm on Wednesday 10 July after a man was observed exhibiting suspicious behaviour on the bridge.

Ten minutes later, officers arrived and said the man had fled and probably left a suitcase behind. After a brief search of the area, a second suitcase with similar contents was found nearby.

Bristol Deputy Commander Vicky Hayward-Melen says the force’s priority now is to find the man who left the suitcases behind and identify the remains.

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Scene at Clifton Suspension Bridge after
Scene at Clifton Suspension Bridge after “human remains” were found in a suitcase (P.A.)

“This is a very disturbing incident and I am acutely aware of the concern it causes in our community,” Ms Hayward-Melen said.

“The investigation is being led by our Serious Crime Investigation Team and involves specialist officers and staff from across the organisation.”

An anonymous eyewitness has told reporters that he saw a man being chased by a cyclist on the bridge on Wednesday evening. The person said they saw the man running down Burwalls Road, a residential road leading to Rownham Hill, on the out-of-town side of the bridge.

They said there were two suitcases: the one left on the bridge was leaking blood, while the other suitcase was on the road just over the bridge on the Leigh Woods side.

They told Bristol Live: “There was blood on the ground along the bridge.

“The man with the suitcases ran away from the bridge staff and I saw a passerby on a bicycle chasing him – he was shouting something in Spanish.”

Since the suitcases were discovered, the search has been ongoing and the Clifton Suspension Bridge is closed to the public. The search is being conducted by local police with support from the National Police Air Service and HM Coastguard.

Officials said the suspect arrived at the scene in a taxi and confirmed that the driver and his vehicle have been located and are assisting with the investigation.

The view of the city from the Bristol Suspension Bridge in May 2024
The view of the city from the Bristol Suspension Bridge in May 2024 (Albert Toth)

Police also confirmed that an autopsy will take place sometime on Thursday, July 11.

The news comes as a separate search is underway in Bristol for 22-year-old Jack O’Sullivan, a university student who disappeared more than four months ago. He was last seen leaving a party in the Hotwells area, which lies at the foot of the suspension bridge.

In a post on the search’s official Facebook group, one of the organizers, Georgie Wooler, said: “There is currently no evidence to suggest that this is related to the search for Jack.”

All roads leading to the Clifton Suspension Bridge in west Bristol have been cordoned off by police. The bridge connects the district of Clifton with Leigh Woods, a village in North Somerset.

The toll bridge – free and open to pedestrians – is a Grade II listed building and part of the B3129 road. It spans the River Avon and woodland on the outskirts of Bristol and is 248 feet high at its highest point.

The Clifton area is one of the most expensive in Bristol, with the average house price being £481,798 – around £100,000 more than the city average.

This story is ongoing. Check back later for further updates.