Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland police to search 50 sites for schoolgirl Arlene's body

By Brendan McDaid

The detective leading the investigation into the murder of teenager Arlene Arkinson has revealed that around 50 sites are to be searched over the coming months.

Tearful siblings of the 15-year-old gathered at the remote rural spot near Castlederg in Co Tyrone yesterday where she was last seen alive 17 years ago in a blue Metro.

The hopes of the family now lie with Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, his team and a specialist victim recovery dog, nine-year-old working spaniel, Leo, plus a back-up dog.

Det Supt Murray and his team yesterday began the first of dozens of planned searches which will take place over the next few months in undisclosed areas across the region.

Speaking at the scene of the search in a picturesque spot near Ederney off the Scraghy Road, he said that to date there had been more than 80 searches for Arlene’s remains.

He added that the new search — the first for several years — would “look at it from 2011 techniques and training”.

Mr Murray said: “We have a panel of three of the most experienced police search advisers and they have come back and said there is more scope for searching here. We are looking at at least 48 sites and we intend to do this in phases of two weeks.

“The appeal has been going for a long time, 17 years, and virtually every year somebody new does come forward at some stage with a new snippet of information.”

He added that there would not be lots of police officers combing the search areas.

“The best way to search is driven by the victim recovery dogs,” he said. “We have two dogs working. The main one is a spaniel with a lot of operational experience who has successfully recovered remains. The searches will be assisted by a police officer back-up team.”

He also confirmed that the new searches were not driven by any new information from the man charged but acquitted with Arlene’s murder, convicted rapist and child murderer Robert Lesarian Howard.

Help the search

A special telephone line has been set up for anyone who wants to provide information as the search resumes for Arlene Arkinson’s remains. The incident room number is 028 7137 9793. Police have made three specific appeals:

Did you see a blue Metro in the area of Scraghy Road in the early hours of August 14, 1994?

Did you see any suspicious activity during the early hours of August 14 in the wider Scraghy/Castlederg area?

Did you see Arlene in Castlederg in early hours of August 14?

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