Rita Roberts was 31 when she went missing in Belgium. Her body was found dumped in a river in Antwerp in 1992, just months after she moved to the city from Cardiff.
Her killer has never been found.
Rita’s family last heard from her when she sent them a postcard in May.
But on June 3, police pulled her body from the Groot Schijn River, near Antwerps’s Sportpaleis concert venue.
At the time of her death, Rita wore distinctive neon sports clothes and had a tattoo on her left forearm of a black flower with the words “R’Nick” inscribed.
But despite the distinctive body art, she remained unidentified – until an international effort called Operation Identify Me was launched in May.
It marked the first time Interpol had released information to the public that had previously been subjected to a Black Notice.
This meant key pieces of information that had been withheld by police for operational reasons – such as DNA, fingerprints, facial images, dental charts, physical descriptions of the body or clothing or body markings such as tattoos – could finally be revealed.
Rita’s family said that finding out what had happened to her more than three decades on was “shocking and heartbreaking”.
In a statement issued through police, they said: “Our passionate, loving and free-spirited sister was cruelly taken away.
“There are no words to truly express the grief we felt at that time, and still feel today.
“Whilst the news has been difficult to process, we are incredibly grateful to have uncovered what happened to Rita.”
The family said that while they continued to miss Rita deeply, they were thankful for the support of Belgium Missing Persons, Antwerp Police, Interpol and Durham
Police in the UK.
They added: “This cross-border collaboration has given a missing girl back her identity, and enabled the family to know she is at rest.”
Interpol secretary-general, Jürgen Stock, said: “After 31 years, an unidentified murdered woman has been given her name back and closure has been brought to her family.
“Such cases underline the vital need to connect police worldwide, especially when missing persons are involved.
“We congratulate the authorities in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands for their leadership in Operation Identify Me. Its important work continues.”
Belgian authorities are now appealing for further information about Rita’s death.