Hope fades as search for April Jones turns into a murder investigation after Mark Bridger arrest
Private prayers for five-year-old April Jones were said last night as the desperate search for the schoolgirl continued.
• The man being held by police searching for missing five-year-old April Jones is now being questioned about her murder
• Police have thanked volunteers for their help with the search for April, but have said it is now no longer appropriate for members of the public to continue searching
Hope turned to near-despair as prime suspect Mark Bridger was arrested on suspicion of murder and the prospect of finding April alive receded.
Officers have been granted a further 24 hours to question the 46-year-old over her disappearance. It means they have until 3:30pm today to quiz him further before they have to either charge or release him.
Officers insisted efforts to find April would not be scaled back, with emergency services, including the Coastguard, RNLI, RAF mountain rescue and 150 members of mountain rescue teams from across the UK, continuing the hunt.
Residents of the mid-Wales market town of Machynlleth are still hopeful the missing schoolgirl will be found alive, with many of them wearing pink ribbons – her favourite colour – to symbolise hope.
It is also a demonstration of the close-knit community’s support for April’s family, who have been devastated by her disappearance.
She was last seen getting into what is believed to have been a Land Rover Discovery of her own free will near her home on Monday evening.
She had been playing on the Bryn-y-Gog estate, where she lives, as a treat for receiving a glowing report at school.
Her mother and father, Coral, 40, and Paul, 44, had attended her nearby primary school’s parents’ evening less than one hour before.
Bridger, 46, who also has children at the school, was there at about the same time.
His blue, left-hand-drive Land Rover Discovery was seized by police after his arrest and is being forensically examined.
His arrest for murder appears to signal a change in the chances of finding April alive. She has cerebral palsy and needs medication.
Bridger was initially arrested on suspicion of abduction on Tuesday, when officers still hoped to find April alive.
Police in Aberystwyth have now been granted a final 24 hours to hold and question him about her disappearance.
“Mark Bridger has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of April Jones,” Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan said. “The arrest does not detract from our efforts to find April and we remain committed to finding her.
“Her family has been informed of this development and, as you would expect, they continue to be supported by a family liaison officer.”
Last night, the people of
Machynlleth still harboured hope of finding her alive.
One pensioner, who did not want to be named, said: “If the power of positive thinking could bring her back, she would be here now. Privately, I’m still praying that she will be found alive. We’re waiting for a miracle in this town – but they sometimes do happen.”
Gwenfair Glyn, the acting headteacher at April’s school, publicly announced the school had not given up hope.
Reacting to news that police were now treating April’s disappearance as a murder inquiry, she said everyone was “desperately worried by today’s news”.
But she added: “We are still clinging to hope that April will be returned to us.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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