THE HISTORIC murder of a woman who was found “dumped callously” on a pile of burning rubbish was at the centre of a police investigation today.

Vera Holland’s burning remains were found on November 16 1996 when fire fighters were called to a blazing fly-tip by the Thames Water pumping station near the A327.

Firemen battled the flames when they found the shocking discovery of a dead woman laid face down, sparking a murder probe.

However, the mother-of-three’s killer was never found despite an extensive police investigation at the time, and her family today appealed for anyone with information after Thames Valley Police officially re-opened the case.

Speaking today, (Friday) five days before the 20th anniversary of the 47-year-old’s death, her son Andrew Bennett and daughter Dawn Reid pleaded for the people of Reading to reinvigorate the case.

Reading Chronicle: The spot where Vera Holland was found on November 16 1996The spot where Vera Holland was found on November 16 1996

“Twenty year ago someone murdered our mum,” said Mr Bennett.

“In doing so they robbed us of the love and care that she brought to our family. Our children, her grandchildren, never got to know her properly, and mum never had the opportunity to see her grandchildren grow.

“Having your mum murdered is a really awful thing to happen to anybody."

The family revealed their heartache at the way their mother was murdered and described the pain of not knowing who was responsible.

Mr Bennett continued: “What made mum's death even more difficult for us, was the callous way her body was dumped amongst the rubbish and then set fire to. It robbed her of any dignity.

“What adds to our anguish is not knowing who was responsible for this horrific crime, and that they have been able to carry on with their life for the last twenty years.”

Although scores of witnesses came forward at the time, detectives were unable to identify who killed Mrs Holland, who lived on St Barnabas Road in Shinfield.

Reading Chronicle:

Vera was last seen two days before her body was found and was reported missing by her husband when she did not return from a trip to KFC on Shinfield Road, a five minute walk from her home.

It is not believed she made it to the shop and the pink coat, green tartan shirt, black jumper and black shoes she was thought to be wearing at the time were never recovered.

Peter Beirne, Head of Thames Valley Police's Major Crime Review Team, added: “I do feel that there are people who have some information, who for whatever reason, have not spoken to the police.

“It might be that allegiances have changed in the last twenty years or you know something now that you didn't at the time.

“I would urge anyone that has information to make contact with the police on 101 and quote reference 497, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

“Vera's family have waited a long time for justice. With your help, we can find out what happened and bring those responsible to justice.”