Woman,71, and actor grandson questioned in hunt for missing girl
a GrandmotHer held on suspicion of murdering a missing teenager had pleaded for the girl’s safe return in a tv interview only 90 minutes before her arrest.
rosemary dinch, 71, and her actor grandson nathan elsey, 19, were held on suspicion of killing Gaia Pope, who went missing last week.
Shortly before her arrest on monday, mrs dinch wept as she told how she had given miss Pope, 19, a hug after she pounded on her door begging for help. She said: ‘She was just upset. very upset... i’m pleased because i gave her a cuddle and she responded. of course i want her found. i have no idea where she is. She just seems to have disappeared.’
the grandmother also emailed her estranged brother on Saturday to say: ‘one of nathan’s friends from school has gone missing. We are all worried half to death.’
mrs dinch, a cook in the maternity unit at Swanage Hospital in dorset, told reporters she may have been the last person to see miss Pope alive.
mrs dinch and mr elsey – who appeared as a extra in the film dunkirk – were yesterday released under investigation, the equivalent of being on bail. mr elsey lives with his mother debbie, 50, in a flat behind his grandmother’s property.
miss Pope, who suffers from severe epilepsy and is described as vulnerable, had been staying with her aunt in Swanage, and was last seen on cctv running towards mrs dinch’s home on november 7. Her mother natasha is an actress who appeared in the bill and inspector morse. She lives with Gaia’s father richard in the nearby village of langton matravers.
despite the dramatic murder arrests, dorset Police last night said they remained hopeful that the missing teenager could be found alive and well.
yesterday neighbours told of ‘screaming’ coming from mrs dinch’s first-floor flat around the time miss Pope was reported missing.
Jack Goode, 25, said: ‘the neighbour who lives below told me they heard shouting and screaming on the day it happened. debbie, nathan’s mum, went over and apologised to them [for] disturbing them.’
mr elsey was in the same year as miss Pope at brockenhurst college, a further education centre in the new Forest. He is studying for a diploma in performing arts. mr elsey’s uncle robin taylor said his nephew may have learning difficulties. the 74-year-old, from nearby Wareham, said his family were estranged from mrs dinch and her children and had virtually no contact with them.
‘i know he’s dyslexic but i think there’s more to it than that,’ he said. ‘i didn’t know rosemary had any kind of involvement in this. i had an email from her and she mentioned that this girl had gone missing. that’s the only email i’ve had in a long time.’
neighbours of mrs dinch said she had become reclusive and was always ‘causing trouble’.
‘my friends used to live practically next door but they moved out when they couldn’t take any more of her nonsense,’ one said. ‘She would cut you dead in the street, and not bother saying hello.’ another described her as ‘rude and loud-mouthed’.
detective Superintendent Paul Kessell, of dorset Police, said: ‘We remain hopeful that we’ll find Gaia alive. We have a duty to explore every possible line of inquiry and that has led us to make two arrests of a 71-year-old woman and a 19year-old man.’
miss Pope was said to have been anxious about the impending release from prison of a man jailed two years ago for assaulting her. two days before her disappearance, she posted a message on instagram that said she was worried about being ‘shut up and put in a cell’.
last night her family said: ‘We are aware of the arrests that have taken place but want to emphasise that the search for Gaia continues. the massive effort to find Gaia has been a great comfort in what everyone will understand is a deeply worrying and scary experience for all who love Gaia.’
‘Shouting and screaming’
Arrested: Nathan Elsey Missing: Gaia Pope
Arrested: Rosemary Dinch