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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Please let our little April come home safe: Parents make desperate plea as police quiz ex-soldier and search for snatched girl goes on

-Suspect was arrested walking near girl's town, and police recover van
-It's understood man was known to her family - but wasn't a relative
-Suspect named locally as Mark Bridger, 46, but no official confirmation yet
-Locals say he is a former soldier and lifeguard with a daughter April's age
-Hundreds of local residents search 25-mile radius for missing child
-April's parents offered support by Kate and Gerry McCann
-Searches are understood to be taking place along the A487
-Police officers are becoming 'increasingly concerned' for girl's safety
-April Jones seen by a friend getting into a stranger's van on Monday
-Her parents in Machynlleth, Wales, are 'beside themselves with worry'
-DS Reg Bevan of Dyfed-Powys Police said 'sooner we find her the better'
-Friend who was with April gives police vital clues on driver's appearance
-Police reveal another attempted abduction took place in area last month

By MARK DUELL, ROB PREECE, HANNAH ROBERTS, EMINE SINMAZ, DAMIEN GAYLE, STEPHEN WRIGHT, PAUL BENTLEY and REBECCA EVANS

Nationwide publicity: A billboard showing missing girl April Jones is seen in Vauxhall, London

The distraught parents of five-year-old April Jones last night begged: ‘Please help us bring home our beautiful little girl.’
Paul and Coral Jones issued a statement as police held a former soldier on suspicion of abduction.

Little girl lost: April Jones, five, vanished while playing outside near her home in the Bryn Y Gog estate in Machynlleth, Wales, on Monday night

Mark Bridger, 46, who is known to April’s family, was being questioned by officers over her whereabouts.
Mr and Mrs Jones said: ‘Last night our lives were shattered when our beautiful little girl April who was playing with friends was taken from us.
‘We are devastated and our lives have stopped. Please please if you have our little girl let her come home to us.’

Is this the van? An aerial view of Dyfed-Powys Police surrounding a white van, that fits the description of the vehicle that was involved in April's disappearance

Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan said: ‘April is still missing and all lines of inquiry are continuing with the view that she is still alive.’
Mr Bevan said that locating the suspect ‘had been top of the list’ of priorities since soon after April’s disappearance from outside her home in the mid-Wales town of Machynlleth.
He added that the man was being questioned in Aberystwyth and that police were ‘hopeful that this individual will assist us in locating April who is still missing’.
April was last seen by another child getting into a grey vehicle, believed to be left-hand-drive, at about 7pm on Monday.

Machynlleth: April's home is on the terrace of houses to the centre left of the picture and the garages where she was last seen are believed to be on the bottom centre

There was no evidence of a struggle, prompting speculation that April knew the driver.
Yesterday afternoon, just as her parents were about to make a public appeal for her safe return, police swooped on Bridger as he walked along a road on the outskirts of the town.
In what officers called a ‘significant’ development in the inquiry, he was arrested on suspicion of abduction and his Land Rover Discovery – which detectives said was of ‘strong interest’ – was recovered soon afterwards at a different location.

Possession: Pictured is what is believed to be April's bicycle outside her house. She was said to have been playing with her bicycle when abducted

Forensic tests were being carried out on the vehicle last night.
A 12-mile stretch of road was closed off outside the 2,000-strong market town as police scoured the countryside.
Police said they wished to thank the media for their help in the hunt for April. A spokesman said: ‘Thank you to the media for your support and the coverage of these difficult times.’

Searching far and wide: A digital billboard in Swiss Cottage, London, displays a public appeal for missing April

The arrest happened less than an hour before a scheduled 4.30pm press conference involving April’s parents. It was postponed as a result of the development.
Behind the scenes, there was growing pessimism that April would be found safe. Specialist family liaison officers were comforting her parents and elder sister and younger brother.
It is understood that the arrested man’s name was linked with the inquiry at a very early stage.

Desperate: Search teams assembling in the countryside around Machynlleth, Powys, as the hunt for April continues into its second night tonight

April’s godmother Mair Raftree, 41, from Aberystwyth, who has helped with the efforts to find her, said: ‘She’s a quiet girl, and an important member of her family. She would never go with anybody and ask for a lift. We just want her back safely.’
Neighbours on the quiet former council estate of Bryn-y-Gog, from where April was taken, were in shock.
They described 43-year-old Mr Jones and his 40-year-old wife as ‘stunned and devastated’. Mathew Harris, 22, who lives on the estate, said: ‘The general feeling is one of disbelief – nobody can take it on board.

Grim faced: Concerned neighbours of the family have already spent all day scouring the hills surrounding the mid-Wales town

‘I was born and grew up on this estate and remember what it was like as a kid. Everyone played with everyone else.’
Police said a seven-year-old female friend saw April ‘willingly’ get into the vehicle on the right-hand side. At the time of her disappearance, April was wearing a purple knee-length coat with grey fur around the hood, her school white polo top and black trousers.
April’s mother and father had been at a parents’ evening at her primary school on the evening she was snatched. They also have a ten-year-old son, Harley, at the school.

Search party: Residents of the town of Machynlleth, Wales, search for April in the hills around the town

The couple were yesterday offered support by missing Madeleine McCann’s parents Kate and Gerry.
Police confirmed that they are looking at possible links between April’s disappearance and a suspected abduction attempt last week. That focuses on a report of a vehicle seen ‘acting suspiciously’ in the Aberystwyth area, the apparent target being a young boy.

In the rain: Residents searched for April, despite the difficult conditions in the area, around her hometown

Working as one: Searches are carried out in the roads surrounding the home in Machynlleth, Wales

Terrible time: Officers were comforting the girl's distressed parents Coral, 40, and Paul, 43, who were said to be 'beside themselves with worry'

source: dailymail



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