div>POLICE investigating the death of hiker Esther Dingley have admitted for the first time that she may have been murdered.
A piece of Esther’s skull was discovered in the Pyrenees region where she disappeared last November.
But intensive searches on foot and with drones found no other remains – nor any evidence of the clothing or mountain gear of the 37-year-old Oxford graduate.
The seasoned adventurer had over 30 pieces of gear, including a backpack and survival gear made from tough and durable materials, most of which were brightly colored.
Search teams believed that a wild bear or wolf may have moved the bone fragment near a well-traveled path after Esther died in a fall.
But if this theory is correct, it is likely that clothing and equipment would have been strewn across the rugged collar of Port de la Glère and have already been found.
Esther, from Durham, was traveling with her boyfriend Dan Colegate but was on a solo hike when she disappeared.
And the French prosecutor in charge of the police investigation expressed his concerns for the first time yesterday, ostensibly refusing to rule out a criminal act.
Christophe Amunzateguy told The Sun: “The goal is to put forward a scenario to explain the disappearance of Esther Dingley.
“Find out what could have happened – whether it was an accidental thesis or a criminal thesis, because we are not closing the door to any hypothesis.” »
Teams of specialists continued to scour the barren terrain on the border with Spain after DNA tests last month confirmed the skull fragment was Esther’s.
They were supported by her partner Dan, 38, who is on the mountain every day looking for clues, and her mother Ria Byrant.
Pathologists are still performing tests on the bone fragment found by Spanish hikers last month in an attempt to establish a cause of death.
A key part of the investigation will be to determine if there are animal bites on the skull or if a violent force caused it to rupture.
It was found next to a hiking trail and had not been spotted before, indicating that it has been moved.
Researchers believe that the rest of Esther’s remains may still be hidden in a remote cave or ravine.
A spokesperson for his family said yesterday: “When these clothes and kit appear, they will likely answer many questions – or ask more.
“Finding out what happened remains a priority. “