Forensic testing of bones nearly a century after St Martins woman Ellen Mouat was brutally murdered has meant she could be laid to rest with her parents.

The 40-year-old woman, known as Nellie, was murdered by her husband Frederick Mouat on February 20, 1925 in what has been described as one of the country's most compelling cases.

He dismembered and burnt her body. But police were never able to confirm the remains were hers, and many thought Mrs Mouat was still alive, reports Christchurch Star.

Now, more than 90 years later, as part of the New Zealand Police Museum's repatriation project, she has been buried with her parents at Linwood Cemetery after testing by Otago University forensic anthropologists confirmed the remains were hers.


A special ceremony has been held with police representatives and Mrs Mouat's family to bury her.

Her parents' headstone in Linwood Cemetery was damaged in the February 2011 earthquake, so police had it restored and added her name to it.

Mrs Mouat went missing from her Beckford St home on February 20, 1925. Mr Mouat also disappeared. After a manhunt he was found and charged with her murder.

Detectives working on the case found hundreds of crushed and burned pieces of bone on the Mouat's property and made a case against him.

It was the first time police had built a murder case against someone without having a complete body.

At the trial, medical experts testified the bones would have come from a woman of Mrs Mouat's stature.

But because it had not been confirmed, Mr Mouat was only convicted of manslaughter.

Police believe Detective John Burt, who was working on the case, put Mrs Mouat's remains in the New Zealand Police Museum after it was tried in 1926.

That's where they stayed until they were taken to Otago University last year to be tested.

In July, 2015, the New Zealand Police Museum started a project to repatriate the remains of 37 people that had been in the museum's care since the 1920s and 30s. It has now been completed.