Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Murder search prompts family pledge

Arlene Arkinson went missing 17 years ago
Kathleen Arkinson (second left), sister of murdered schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson, is comforted by other family members
Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray speaks to the media on the outskirts of Castlederg, Co Tyrone

The family of a murdered schoolgirl have vowed to hold an on-site vigil as a major new police search operation continues.

Arlene Arkinson's surviving sisters and brothers said one of them would be present at each of the 48 planned searches for the teenager's remains over the coming months.

The 15-year-old from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, went missing 17 years ago after a night out across the Irish border in the seaside town of Bundoran, Co Donegal. Police believe she was abducted and killed.

"We'll be here everyday," said her brother Adrian as he watched the new recovery bid get under way in a field near the remote lane where she was last seen alive.

That sighting, five miles from Castlederg in August 1994, was in a car driven by convicted child killer Robert Howard.

In 2005, he stood trial for her murder despite the fact her body had not been found.

He was acquitted by a jury which was not aware he was serving a life sentence for the 2001 murder of schoolgirl Hannah Williams, 14, from south London.

In the years since Arlene's disappearance, more than 80 police searches have failed to locate her body.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has initiated the fresh operation after a review of the case by three specialist search advisers.

Detectives believe employing new forensic techniques may yield a breakthrough. Foremost among these is the use of highly trained victim recovery dogs.

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