Belfast Telegraph

New bid to find teenager's remains

Forty sites are to be searched by specialist police officers in a new bid to find the remains of a murdered teenager.

The major operation to locate the body of 15-year-old Arlene Arkinson could last a period of months.

The teenager, 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.

Arlene was last seen in a car driven by convicted child killer Robert Howard. In 2005, he stood trial for her murder despite the fact her remains had not been found.

The 77-year-old was acquitted by a jury which was not made aware he was serving a life sentence for the 2001 murder of 14-year-old Hannah Williams from south London.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has spent the last six months planning the fresh searches in and around the Castlederg area.

As well as specialist forensic officers and sniffer dogs, the operation is being assisted by geologists, archaeologists and psychological profilers.

The first search will begin on August 31 - what would have been the 70th birthday of the teenager's late father Willie.

Arlene's sister Kathleen met with the officer in charge of the operation, Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, at Castlederg police station on Wednesday morning. Afterwards she said she was very happy with the police's efforts.

"I am sort of scared to be too hopeful that Arlene could be found. But it's hard not to get your hopes up. I haven't been able to sleep right since I heard new searches would be taking place," she said.

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