A MAN arrested in connection with the abduction of April Jones is known to the five-year-old’s family, it emerged
The man, named locally as Mark Bridger, 46, from the Machynlleth area of Wales, was stopped and arrested at about 3:30pm yesterday while walking along a road outside the town.
Police said the man had been arrested on suspicion of abduction and was due to be questioned further last night.
Mr Bridger remains in custody at Aberystwyth police station, with his vehicle recovered by officers.
Forensic officers were examining the mid-90s Land Rover Discovery and described it as “a vehicle he had use of which is of interest to the inquiry”.
Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan, from Dyfed Powys Police, said late last night that police had not found any trace of April yet.
“It’s still at the stage where she remains missing,” he said. “We are pursuing every line of inquiry that may result in finding April. At this stage we’ve found nothing.”
Police are looking at whether April’s disappearance is linked to another attempted
abduction in the Aberystwyth area around one week ago.
Officers also confirmed they were looking into the movements of known registered sex offenders living in the area.
It is understood that Mr Bridger is known to April’s family, but is not a relation. The man’s arrest came just hours before April’s parents, Coral, 40, and Paul, 43, issued a public statement read out at a police press conference in Aberystwyth.
In the statement, the parents said: “We are devastated and our lives have stopped. Please if you have our little girl, let her come home to us.
“This is such a small, close-knit community and we plead with anyone who has any information, no matter how small they think it is, to contact the police immediately. Please help us bring home our beautiful little girl.”
April was last seen by another child getting into the driver’s side of a grey van in Machynlleth at about 7pm on Monday.
Police said it appeared that she had got into the van “willingly”, but they did not know if she was led to the vehicle or went there herself.
Speaking after a press conference yesterday afternoon, Mr Bevan said: “We were pursuing a number of inquiries, some of those were searching addresses.
“We were looking for this individual so we knew who we were looking for and, as a result, we have had a number of patrols in the area and we have come across this individual.”
He added that the force’s
priority remained finding the little girl alive. “We will not focus all of our efforts just on this individual,” Mr Bevan said.
“He is significant, clearly – that’s why we’ve arrested him – but we will still be pursuing all other lines of inquiry.”
A massive search has been mounted for April, with volunteers being co-ordinated into groups of 20 to scour sections of the surrounding area.
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, where April was last seen, were in shock yesterday.
Mathew Harris, 22, who lives on the estate, said: “The
general feeling is one of disbelief,
nobody can take it on board.”