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Parents held over death of baby girl found at beauty spot

The 48-year-old father and 33-year-old mother were arrested almost four months after the discovery of the baby in woodland near Rochdale.

A man and a woman arrested on suspicion of the murder of a newborn baby girl found dead at a beauty spot are the child’s parents.

The 48-year-old father and 33-year-old mother were held on Wednesday, almost four months after the discovery of the baby by a dog walker in woodland in Heywood, near Rochdale, on April 4.

Police have been carrying out extensive inquiries including DNA analysis to find out what happened to the baby, named Pearl by detectives.

The two suspects, who sources confirmed are the child’s parents, have been arrested on suspicion of murder, concealing a birth and preventing a lawful burial.

They remain in custody for questioning and inquiries are continuing, a spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said.

Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes, who is leading the investigation for GMP, said: “This continues to be an incredibly heartbreaking case for everyone involved – from the detectives working painstaking hours to find those responsible to members of the public that have felt the loss of Pearl.

“While we have two people in custody, our investigation is still very much ongoing and I would continue to urge anyone with even the smallest piece of information – no matter how insignificant it may seem – to please get in touch.

“We’re committed to finding the truth for this little girl and truly believe the public could hold the key to this tragic case.”

The baby was found in a remote area of Roch Valley Woods, which is popular with dog walkers and families, at around 7.10am on April 4.

Forensic examinations determined she was born with a congenital defect that resulted in her missing two ribs, was probably newborn and likely to be Caucasian, although mixed heritage cannot be ruled out.

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Police at the scene near George Street in April this year (Peter Byrne/PA)

She was found abandoned, unclothed, with no blanket or nappy. Detectives drafted in a behavioural psychologist and made numerous public appeals for information to try to identify her.

Later police said they were searching a premises on George Street in Heywood in connection with the investigation.

A small number of industrial units, about half a mile away from where the child was found, was cordoned off by police and an old, white caravan was towed away.

A mechanic who worked at the garage where the caravan was taken from said he let the owner store it there for a year.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said: “He came here about 12 months ago and asked to keep his caravan here.

“I said that was fine. I didn’t see him much after that. I didn’t think he was living in the caravan, he never took it out. I don’t know his name.”

Police officers could be seen outside the premises, but there did not appear to be a forensic search ongoing at the time.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 4810 or 07387 705768 quoting incident number 368 of 04/04/18.

Reports can also be made anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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