A pensioner, her son and grandson were mistakenly arrested on suspicion of murdering Gaia Pope as a result of a CCTV mix-up caused by the clocks changing, it has been alleged.
Rosemary Dinch, 71, Paul Elsey, 49, and Nathan Elsey, 19, were held as police and volunteers desperately searched for Miss Pope, 19, from Swanage, Dorset, who vanished on November 7.
Mrs Dinch and her grandson were arrested six days after Miss Pope disappeared and were released the following day as police carried on their investigation.
Her son was arrested on November 16 and released under police investigation a day later.
Describing her arrest, Ms Dinch told The Sun: “I was just thinking about poor Gaia.”
She added: “I couldn’t breathe in the police station and they had to call a nurse in.”
Her son said police “got it all wrong but it was like talking to a brick wall”.
Ms Dinch’s daughter, Deborah Elsey, told the newspaper she had given police CCTV footage from her house that showed her son, who said he had known Miss Pope, leaving his home.
“When they questioned him, the time didn’t match the time on the footage so they dragged him in for murder,” Ms Elsey said.
“It’s ridiculous. The time on the CCTV didn’t match because the clocks went back and the time on there didn’t change.”
Her son told the newspaper: “It was horrible. They said I was suspected of murder and my first thought was ‘oh my God, Gaia’s dead’.”
Miss Pope’s body was found on November 18 and police said a post-mortem examination had not identified any injuries to suggest third-party involvement in her death, which was being treated as “unexplained”.
When Dorset Police announced the three people arrested in connection with their investigation would face no further action, detective superintendent Paul Kessell said the force had been expected to “fully investigate the sudden disappearance of a teenage girl”.
“I appreciate our inquiries would have caused these individuals stress and anxiety, however we have an obligation in any missing person investigation to explore every possible line of inquiry,” he said.