Search expanded for missing Alice

Published: Sunday 7th September 2014 by The News Editor

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Police have expanded the area they are searching in the hunt for missing schoolgirl Alice Gross – as detectives continue to question a man on suspicion of her murder.

Specialist police divers in black wetsuits and breathing apparatus are today taking it in turns to comb the west London waterway where the schoolgirl was last spotted 12 days ago.

Sniffer dog handlers led a golden Labrador onto a red dinghy boat and were scanning the Grand Union Canal in Hanwell for evidence, while around a dozen uniformed police officers were stationed in the area.

The Metropolitan Police’s expansion of their search follows the arrest yesterday afternoon of a 25-year-old man on suspicion of killing the vulnerable teen, who suffers from anorexia.

Alice was last seen by her family at 1pm on August 28, when she left her home in Hanwell but failed to return home.

Police swooped on the man in Ealing, west London, after receiving fresh information. It came after they released new pictures of cyclists riding past the spot where the teenager was last seen moments before her disappearance.

The grainy images show three cyclists riding along the towpath by the Trumpers Way Canal Bridge in Hanwell, just before Alice walks past at 4.23pm.

They are followed by two more cyclists who pass under the bridge.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “All lines of enquiry are still open at this time and this remains a missing person investigation at this stage.”

He confirmed police had broadened the area they are searching, but refused to discuss where it had been expanded from, or to.

Police have trawled through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and carried out “extensive” searches using specialist officers in the hunt for the missing schoolgirl.

Alice is white, 5ft 2ins tall, very slim build and with shoulder-length, light brown hair.

She was last seen wearing dark blue jeans and a dark green lacy cardigan and carrying a dark rucksack, which was recovered earlier this week. She may have been wearing denim blue Vans shoes and tartan-framed spectacles.

Police said they were “especially concerned” as Alice has not been well recently.

Officers are also urging anyone who may have befriended Alice while on a song-writing workshop at the Camden Roundhouse to come forward.

Earlier this week Alice’s mother, Rosalind Hodgkiss, issued an emotional appeal to help find her daughter.

She said: “We’d like to say to Alice first of all that we miss her, that we love her and that she’s not in any trouble, and we want to know that she’s safe. We just want her to come home.

“We’re also appealing to anybody who might have seen her or who may have made contact with her or who may know something about her whereabouts to contact police or Missing People, and to just get in touch because we’re really concerned about her well-being.”

Surrey and Sussex Police have both provided specialist resources to the Met to help with their search.

Anyone with information can call police on 020 8358 0100, Ealing Missing Persons Unit on 020 8246 1018 or the charity Missing People on 116000.

Published: Sunday 7th September 2014 by The News Editor

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