Mother of missing April Jones makes emotional plea for information
THE mother of missing schoolgirl April Jones made an emotional plea yesterday for her daughter’s safe return as police vowed there would be no let-up in the increasingly frantic search operation.
• April Jones was abducted on Monday evening
• Mark Bridger, 46, questioned over girl’s disappearance
• Police warn against community members joining search operation
A distraught Coral Jones, 40, begged for help in finding her five-year-old as authorities prepared for the search in mid Wales to stretch into a third day.
April has not been seen since she was spotted getting into a vehicle near her home in the market town of Machynlleth on Monday evening.
Mrs Jones, who was accompanied by April’s grandfather Dai Smith, fought back tears as she pleaded for information that could hold the key to her daughter’s whereabouts.
“It’s been 36 hours since April was taken from us,” she said.
“There must be someone out there who knows where she is and can help the police find her. We are desperate for any news.
“April is only five years old. Please, please, help find her.”
Dyfed Powys Police confirmed April has cerebral palsy.
Detectives were last night given an extra 12 hours to hold and question 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with the girl’s disappearance, having already interviewed the arrested man twice.
They can apply to a court for a warrant of further detention when that grace period ends this morning.
Police took the unusual step yesterday of publicly naming the former soldier as the man they had arrested, as well as issuing a photograph of his blue Land Rover Discovery seized on Tuesday.
They have stressed they are also pursuing other leads.
Details emerged that Mr Bridger has two young daughters living at the Bryn-y-Gog estate where April was snatched.
The youngsters live less than 200 yards from April’s home, with two former partners of Mr Bridger also living in the neighbourhood.
Railway worker Glen Lewis, 50, described Mr Bridger’s daughters as “lovely, sweet girls”.
April is known to have played on her bicycle with the girls, who are believed to be aged seven and ten.
Mr Lewis said: “I know Mark vaguely. I think he came to Machynlleth about 15 years ago when the leisure centre opened and he was one of the lifeguards.
“Over the years I have seen him around and I’ve seen his Land Rover Discovery on the estate. He would come here to visit his daughters and would probably take them out in his car. He might have taken April, too.
“I knew him as a bit of a ladies’ man.”
Police have refused to put a time limit on the search operation, but acknowledged the region’s rugged terrain had proven extremely challenging in trying to trace the vanished schoolgirl.
Superintendent Ian John, of Dyfed Powys Police, labelled the scale of the investigation as “unprecedented”. He said: “The search operation is continuing to grow and grow at quite a pace.
“We’ve got over 100 mountain rescue experts, 100 police-trained search officers, 20 dog-handlers, two vessels to search the river, a team of kayakers, as well as the Dyfed Powys Police marine unit. There are a large number of sites that we are looking at.
“They are very varied in nature and the terrain that we are working in and the geography that we are working in is very challenging. It’s been described to me as a hostile environment.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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