The corpse of the woman, referred to as Sigrid P., was discovered in the cellar of a family home in Königswinter, near Bonn in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The dead woman’s husband, who was living in the house with his newly married wife, has been arrested, Bonn’s police department said.
Police discovered the body when they carried out a search of the home using diggers. The body was found – set in concrete – when officers prised open the cellar’s walls with drill hammers.
The corpse was then transferred to Bonn’s forensic hospital and is currently undergoing an autopsy, according to the Welt newspaper.
Police spokesman Robert Scholten said: “Around midday we found a woman’s body in the cellar of a family home in the district of Ittenbach,” the Bild newspaper reported. He added that it was “very likely” to be that of Sigrid P.
At present Gerd P., her 74-year-old former husband, is the main suspect.
In February 2008 he confirmed that his then 38-year-old wife had left him following arguments and money problems. At this stage the police had not been called and nobody had reported her missing.
“The man told us that she had left to start a new life,” Frank Piontek, the police superintendent in charge of the case, told the Welt.
It was not until December 2012 that one of Sigrid P.’s daughters contacted the media. The police then opened an investigation and discovered that Sigrid P. had not notified the authorities of her change of address, had not been using her health insurance card and had “left no other traces whatsoever”, Piontek told the Welt.
The search for the missing woman was launched through the crime investigation television show 'Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst' – on which Madeleine McCann’s parents also recently appeared.
The programme received information that the suspected killer, Gerd P., had begun extensive construction work in his garden. Police were then able to carry out a search on the property leading to the discovery of the corpse.