Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Arkinson search: Nothing suspicious found at Killen site

Police searching for missing Northern Ireland schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson have said that nothing suspicious has been found at Killen in Co Tyrone.

The PSNI said the Arkinson family has been updated. A team of specialists from England had been looking at the site close to where the schoolgirl was last seen in the company of convicted child killer Robert Howard.

Their work has been focussed on an isolated patch of land at the foot of a small valley close to the village of Killen, Co Tyrone, several miles outside Castlederg.

Access to the scene had been sealed off since Tuesday. A police cordon had been erected at the top of the single narrow track which leads through fields to a secluded derelict stone farmhouse concealed behind a clump of mature trees.

Experts dressed in white forensic suits spent much of their time inspecting the isolated site, clearing debris such as branches and twigs and placing a number of items into exhibit bags.

Arlene, 15, disappeared in August 1994 after a night out across the Irish border in Co Donegal.

She was last seen being driven down Scraghy Road, close to where the new search is being conducted, late at night with paedophile Robert Howard.

Howard was acquitted of Arlene's murder in 2005 by a jury that was not made aware of his lengthy criminal history which included killing another teenager, Hannah Williams, in south London several years earlier.

However, he remained the prime suspect in the unsolved case until his death in an English prison last year.

There have been more th an 40 extensive searches conducted in forested areas, fire dams, reservoirs and remote farmland in Counties Tyrone, Fermanagh and Donegal but so far, Arlene's body has not been recovered.

Howard's flat at Main Street in Castlederg, the home of Donna Quinn - one of the last people to see Arlene alive - and, controversially, a house belonging to Kathleen Arkinson, a sister of the missing schoolgirl, have also been examined as part of the police investigation.

After receiving a tip-off that Arlene's body was buried under a bridge near a bog, a new team of experts and a victim recovery dog spent months scouring the rural hinterland between 2010 and 2012.

But again, searches at 13 sites proved fruitless.

Meanwhile, a long-running inquest into the circumstances of Arlene's disappearance is expected to conclude hearing oral evidence when it resumes in Belfast on Monday.

Kathleen Arkinson said she will never give up hope of finding her sister's remains.

She said: "It has been very difficult few days. It has been so long and there have been so many let-downs."

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