British Hiker Esther Dingley, whose skull fragments were found in the area of the Pyrenees mountains where she vanished in November last year, might have been murdered.

Dingley, from Durham, was travelling with her boyfriend Dan Colegate during which she went out on a solo trek and disappeared. French police have admitted after around nine months of investigation that her death might have been a murder. The cops have come to the conclusion after they were unable to locate any remains of Esther's body or her hiking gear near the trail where her skull was found, reports The Sun.

Dingley was an experienced adventurer and had more than 30 items in her kit, including a rucksack and survival gear made from tough, durable materials, most of which were brightly coloured. In the case of her body, the search teams had believed that it might have been missing since a wild bear or wolf could have moved the fragment close to a well-used trail after she died in a fall.

However, if that theory is believed to be correct, the hiker's clothes and equipment would have been scattered across the rugged Port de la Glere mountain pass and been found by now.

In a recent conversation with the outlet, Fresh prosecutor Christophe Amunzateguy, who is leading the investigation, pointedly refused to rule out foul play in the case. He said, "The aim is to put forward a scenario to explain the disappearance of Esther Dingley. To find out what may have happened — whether it was an accidental thesis, or a criminal thesis, because we are not closing the door to any hypothesis."

Meanwhile, the specialist teams have continued their search of the barren terrain that lies between Spain and France. Dingley's partner Dan is also out on the mountain every day looking for clues, so is her mother Ria Bryant.

DNA tests last month had confirmed that the skull fragment, which was found by Spanish hikers next to a hiking trail and was not spotted before, belonged to Dingley. However, pathologists are still carrying out tests on the bone shard in a bid to establish a cause of death.

French police outside Marseille station
French police outside Marseille station BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images